Safety agencies joining forces to tackle festive over-indulgence

A campaign is being launched to discourage binge drinking in Hull this week amid growing concern about alcohol-fuelled violence.

Extra police patrols have also being arranged over the festive period to tackle anti-social behaviour by those who ignore the "Don't get 'sleighed'" warnings.

Taster sessions have been held in the city centre for people to sample alcohol-free beer and wine as 999 workers are braced for a busy week as thousands of revellers celebrate after finishing work early to go to pubs and clubs.

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Among the alternative beverages on offer is Iron Press, an alcohol-free beer that aims to reduce the embarrassment factor of ordering soft drinks, particularly among men.

The campaign is being run by ReFresh and Action for Change, two multi-agency services working to reduce the harms caused by alcohol and drugs among young people and adults.

ReFresh service manager Laura Starky said: "Christmas is about having a good time but it's important to stay safe and healthy so that it's a Christmas to remember, not to regret."

A "12 days of Christmas", multi-agency safety campaign is also taking place in Hull to keep residents and their property safe over the festive period.

Organisers say the Christmas party season is linked to a rise in sex attacks, violent crime and admissions to accident and emergency departments as people drink far more than at other times.

Hull Citysafe Partnership delivery officer Katy Stevenson said: "We want people enjoy themselves but to drink responsibly and to understand how much is too much.

"It's important for people to keep themselves safe, for example, by making sure they book a taxi home, stay with friends and have enough credit on their mobile phones and drink plenty of water."

Public health lead for alcohol at NHS Hull Paul Laing said: "People naturally like to let their hair down over the festive period, but partying can sometimes get out of control with consequences for health and well-being.

"It is not our intention to stop people having a good time; quite the opposite," he explained, "we would like to see a Christmas in which people wake up the following morning without regret for what they did the night before or worse still needing a trip to A&E."

Sergeant Andrew Parsons, from the Humberside Police violent crime team for Hull city centre, added: "Unfortunately there are clear links between alcohol consumption and violent crime and disorder and this is no different during the festive period.

"The majority of people go out and remember the real meaning of Christmas and treat other people with respect and kindness.

"However, some people go out to cause trouble and they will be dealt with by public order officers to ensure the public are not adversely affected by the mindless minority.

"Those who get into trouble often include people out on annual Christmas parties who are not used to drinking large amounts of alcohol but through peer pressure drink more than they would normally and end up either the victim or perpetrator of crime.

"To these people I would urge restraint and consider alternating to soft drinks to slow the effects of alcohol on the body.

"To protect the public, police officers will be patrolling pubs and clubs in the city centre to ensure that revellers can enjoy a night safe from harm or abuse and will alter patrol times and locations to meet anticipated demand.

"During this time we will work very closely with other partner agencies and local businesses in the city centre to reduce the numbers of and opportunities for violent crime to occur."

The police response will include a joint police and ambulance service paramedic 999 car, and undercover operations to tackle under-age sales,