Norwich is the safest place in East Anglia for revellers says police chief
Norwich is still the safest place to go out in East Anglia - that is the message from a leading Norfolk police officer with the Christmas and New Year party season about to enter full swing.
Thousands of revellers will hit the streets of Norwich this week to celebrate the festivities with most of them expected to descend on bars, pubs and clubs in Prince of Wales Road.
The issue of safety on the street was thrown back into the spotlight last week following the conclusion of a manslaughter trial which followed the death of 43-year-old father-of-three Alan Jewitt who died after being punched in the street in August.
Ion Lacatus, 27, of Kettlebaston Road, London, was found not guilty of the manslaughter of the self-employed electrician from Gertrude Road, north Norwich, after claiming he acted in self defence.
The trial prompted calls for people to consider the consequences of their actions when enjoying themselves in the city, while Judge Peter Jacobs also issued plea for those going out drinking in the city to drink a bit less.
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But community safety chief inspector Gavin Tempest said Norwich was still a safe place for people to go and enjoy themselves.
He said: 'It's always going to be the case that within any drinking population there's going to be some people that are likely to drink too much and that's going to have negative consequences.
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'Norwich has by far and away the biggest night-time economy in East Anglia and people do travel by rail to go out on a Friday and Saturday night.
'But in Norwich, which when you think on a busy night has a footfall of 16,000 people enjoying the night-time economy, incidents are really few and far between. While there are isolated incidents Norwich is not only the most popular place in East Anglia but the safest.'
Ch Insp Tempest said police had been working with partner agencies to try and help reduce serious violence in the night time economy through a series of measures including multi-agency visits to licensed premises.
He said: 'Since 2003/04 there had been a marked improvement in both the type of anti-social behaviour and criminality in Norwich on weekend evenings despite a much larger footfall.
'If you go out on a Friday and Saturday in the early hours there are problems with a few people who become aggressive and violent because they've drunk too much but the amount of incidents where there's groups fighting or injuring each other has just dropped off.
'There has been a steady increase in the Norwich city centre on weekend evenings in the number of individual incidents with just single people or one on one type incidents where people are getting hurt. In the past three years these sort of injury incidents have gone up by four per cent which isn't much, but it's something the police and partners have got to work hard to combat.'
Ch Insp Tempest, who one day hoped officers and door staff in the city might be bolstered by the addition of body worn cameras, urged people to enjoy themselves but be sensible - and do not put themselves or others in danger - if they go out in the city this Christmas.
Have you got a crime story for the Evening News? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email firstname.lastname@example.org