The City of London Police is stepping into Christmas with a comprehensive policing plan to combat crime.
The prevention of violence against women and girls is at the forefront of the City of London Police’s Christmas message, ahead of the busiest festive period since the global pandemic.
With thousands of revellers expected to celebrate in the Square Mile, officers have carried out blind ‘Ask for Angela’ testing in licenced premises across the city.
‘Ask for Angela’ is an initiative that provides people with a phrase to use to get help from staff if they feel unsafe or uncomfortable in bars and clubs.
Of the random licensed venues tested, 72 percent passed the test. The bar staff recognised the code word when our female plain-clothed officer asked for “Angela”, leading to welfare checks and advice from staff and management.
The force’s licencing team is offering staff at the venues that failed the test training sessions to increase their skills, knowledge and confidence in identifying vulnerability and making appropriate interventions.
A number of safety initiatives, aimed at keeping women safe, will be running through the Christmas period and into the New Year, including:
- ‘Walk and Talk’ scheme, where women visiting, working or living in the City of London can ‘Walk and Talk’ with an officer, to share their thoughts on safety and on areas which they have concerns about.
- Spiking training workshops for licensed premises staff on what to do if someone reports a drink spiking. Also officers will have test kits on certain nights so anyone concerned can have their drink tested.
- Initiatives aimed at getting people home safely, including clamping down on unlicensed minicabs and a taxi marshalling service at Liverpool Street station.
- A night safety hub at St Botolph’s church hall, in partnership with EC Bid. People can use the hub as a safe haven and get any medical assistance they may need.
The City of London Police’s cycle team is a new addition to the force’s increased presence this Christmas to help patrol the city’s streets over the festive period.
The cycle response unit is highly visible, approachable and able to quickly get through areas inaccessible to vehicles and will help to deter and detect criminals, as well as provide visible reassurance to the public.
Project Servator and counter terrorist officers will be using overt and covert tactics to keep people safe at Christmas markets and large gatherings.
Tackling violence against women
City of London Police temporary commissioner Pete O’Doherty said: “Over the festive season, we’re expecting a large number of visitors coming into the Square Mile to enjoy everything it has to offer. Our dedicated teams will be out in force across the city, working to a zero tolerance of criminal behaviour and ready to help wherever needed.
“We’re committed to tackling violence against women and girls, it will not be tolerated and it is not acceptable. We want you to know that we are doing all we can to make you feel safe.
“Women and girls shouldn’t have to avoid certain areas, or have the fear of being abused or harassed when they’re out. We are encouraging all men to challenge their friends and colleagues who may have crossed the line and help make women feel safer.”
In its role as the National Lead Force for Fraud, the City of London Police is also warning consumers to be vigilant when shopping for an online bargain in the Black Friday sales and during the Christmas period.
As consumers search online for bargains and gifts for loved ones, fraudsters are seeing this as an opportunity to trick people with the promise of great deals and big cash savings.
The sad reality is there will also be tens of thousands of people across the UK whose Christmas will be damaged, and in some cases destroyed, after discovering they have fallen foul of heartless criminals who specialise in tricking internet users with the promise of great online deals and big cash savings.
Temporary commissioner Pete O’Doherty added: “The run-up to Christmas is a prime time for fraudsters and we are determined to stop them taking money from hard-working people.
“To stop fraudsters in their tracks, be cautious of where and from whom you’re buying, especially if it is technology at a reduced price.
“Follow our simple advice so that your presents can be enjoyed by friends and family and not lost to fraudsters, and if you think you have been a victim of online shopping fraud, report it to Action Fraud.”
The larger footfall will increase the opportunities for criminals to target people’s property. The force’s phone snatching operation has led to the crime being cut in half and the robust approach will continue during the festive period. Bags and coats left unattended at Christmas gatherings also give rise to expensive personal belongings being stolen.
Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Police Authority Board, James Thomson said: “The safety and security of visitors, residents and workers in the Square Mile is our number one priority.
“The festive season is a busy time for our nighttime economy, and we want everyone to enjoy their time in the Square Mile in the run up to the festive season.
“Nobody should be made to feel unsafe, and the City of London Police have been very proactive and innovative in their safety initiatives in keeping crime low in the Square Mile.
“There may be reduced availability of black cabs in the City due to restrictions in certain areas including Bank and Bishopsgate. A taxi marshalling scheme at Liverpool Street Station will be in operation during peak times but we are encouraging people to plan their journey home at the end of the evening.”