Out in town with Havering police as officers try to keep streets safe over festive period
PUBLISHED: 13:06 28 December 2016 | UPDATED: 10:55 29 December 2016
It’s just gone 2am and all I can hear is Noddy Holder belting out “Here it is merry Christmas, everybody’s having fun” - except not everyone this Christmas Eve is.
It’s Friday night and the Christmas songs are blaring out from the police van’s radio as I accompany officers deployed to Romford town centre on one of the busiest weekends of the year.
Throughout the night I’m able to see how officers deal with countless situations that vary from a high street brawl, car crash and the usual alcohol-induced squabbles.
The night began at the station with an updated who’s who of criminals that may be found patrolling the streets as everyone finished one last cup of tea before splitting up and heading to the vans.
I started with an early night trip out to the various pubs and clubs which keep Romford’s night time economy thriving.
It’s the job of licensing officers to ensure that venues are putting public safety first and not escalating the risks of a rise in violence or disorder.
Their efforts so for have helped to bring down violence in establishments by 30 per cent in the last 12 months.
Officers talk about the importance of “problem solving” and “thinking outside the box” as they cast their eyes over numerous premises.
Once the town centre circuit is completed, I head back to the station to for my first patrol.
After a fairly quiet start to the evening, it’s not long before I find myself getting swung from left to right as the van careers its way from Romford to Hornchurch in response to a call for urgent assistance.
Officers are responding to a 12-man brawl with one male lying on the ground feeling the brunt of the attack.
Arriving in the town centre, officers are quick to dive out the van as they hear radio reports of a male making off on foot, while one young pub-goer stands motionless at the side of the road covered in blood.
It’s just one of the many calls weekend response teams take as the festive period kicks into full swing.
After a foot chase, one male is arrested on suspicion of affray after an eagle-eyed member of the team spots a man hiding in a car park.
Back in Romford and the night is winding down as party-goers flock to McDonald’s for a late night supper.
Officers line South Street and the visible presence seems to work well in deterring anyone from causing trouble.
The job almost becomes a babysitting one as arguments and scuffles break out between revellers hanging around the town centre waiting for their lift home.
Another night passes fairly successfully with next weekend set to bring about its own challenges for patrol teams to manage.