Christmas campaign to cut sex offences

AN OPERATION to try to reduce sexual offences in the run-up to Christmas is being repeated by West Yorkshire Police.

Over the next fortnight, officers and workers from other organisations will patrol the county's town and city centres to identify those who are potentially vulnerable to try to protect them.

Officers say that, day and night, they will meet and greet revellers to give them advice about how to stay safe during their nights out. They will also hand out anti-drink spiking devices and information leaflets.

Helpers from 02 will also be sending out safety messages using Bluetooth technology.

Operation Northdale will see officers, together with police service volunteers, NHS staff, the probation service, Street Angels and Night Marshalls, work together.

The initiative – which received national recognition at the Association of Chief Police Officers' excellence in policing awards this summer – has reduced sexual offences by 71 per cent over the last two years.

Acting Chief Inspector Jon Morgan said: "Christmas is a busy time of year in the pubs, bars and clubs around West Yorkshire and it is important that people know the risks that come with alcohol and the impact it can have on people's safety."

"We conduct this operation every year and it is a huge success and we want revellers to continue to listen to our advice and messages and not make themselves vulnerable through binge-drinking."

The scheme's introduction is being staggered – with the first patrols being seen tonight in Halifax and tomorrow in Leeds city centre, Wetherby, around the university and college campuses and city centre in Bradford, in Keighley and Bingley, Wakefield Westgate, Pontefract and Castleford.

The patrols will be extended to Huddersfield town centre next Wednesday and to Headingley and north west Leeds next Friday.

Xscape near Castleford will also be patrolled on Saturdays.