HAMPSHIRE CONSTABULARY have announced it will be supplying 100 tabards for welfare officers working in bars / nightclubs across the county and the Isle of Wight over the next few weeks in a move to further protect and reassure people of their safety.
Welfare officers are staff members at venues dedicated to helping customers and ensuring everyone stays safe during a night out. They have received training to recognise the signs of drunkenness, drug abuse, and whether a customer is under age or vulnerable.
The officers are also alert to any predatory behaviour or any activity that may lead to crime and disorder. Welfare officers will now be easily identifiable within venues thanks to 100 new pink tabards that have ‘welfare’ written across the front and back.
Earlier this year, officers from Hampshire Constabulary set up a project to improve the visibility of welfare officers in Night Time Economy venues across both counties. Funded by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and Hart District Council, the tabards will ensure the officers are clearly visible and more approachable when working in these types of venues.
Rob Cohen, Force Licensing & Alcohol Harm Reduction Sergeant, set up the project and is delighted to be able to roll out the tabards. He said: “It is great to see that licensees across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are employing welfare officers to support their customers and reduce vulnerability in our towns and cities.
“The response from the trade has been very positive. This is an opportunity for venues to highlight the welfare provisions they have in place and encourage others to do the same. The improved visibility of welfare support staff in our venues will encourage members of the public to seek help for themselves or others (when they feel they need it)”.
He added: “This visibility will be the same in all participating venues, wherever you may go for a night out in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. I would like to express my thanks to both Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and Hart District Council for their support and funding to make this happen.”
“We have been able to purchase one hundred pink tabards with the word ‘welfare’ on them, so now people will be able to immediately recognise a welfare officer. Customers are not loyal to one venue but they migrate between clubs and bars, and if there is that consistent approach to welfare visibility, this can only be a benefit.”
“I am still hoping other venues will get involved and they can reach out to receive information on the benefits of welfare officers. This is a project that will benefit the whole force and it highlights how we are all working together to help protect the community.”
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s Interim Executive Director of Residents’ Services, Tom Payne, said: “Keeping our residents safe is a priority for both Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and Hart District Council. We are pleased to work with our partners to provide these tabards for the welfare officers.”
“The night-time economy has been hit hard by the pandemic and the welfare officers will make people enjoying a night out feel safer and more secure. We would also like to remind those in the community they can flag areas on a map where they do not feel safe, regardless of whether a crime has taken place.
He concluded to say: “The data will then be used to improve safety and introduce new measures, such as night-time patrols or installing better street lighting in the local community. The tool forms part of the Government’s whole system approach to tackling violence against women and girls.”
Readers are encouraged to visit www.police.uk/streetsafe for more information and can report any crime when in bars or nightclubs by visiting this link; although they are asked to call 999 in an emergency.
PICTURED (L – R): Staff line up outside Plush Lounge Bar in Basingstoke: Rachael Wilkinson – Community Safety Manager and Hart District Council, Benjamin Esprit – Community Safety Patrol Officer for Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, Valerie Holmes – General Manager at Plush, Ruth Kerr – Police Licensing Officer, Harriet Maund – Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council Licensing Office.