City venues braced for Christmas rush after alarming drinking stats

People queue up for Bar and Beyond in Norwich.

Norwich is gearing up for a busy post-pandemic Christmas period - Credit: Archant

Emergency services are gearing up for a lively Christmas party season as new figures reveal Norwich is a hotspot for drunk and disorderly behaviour. 

Norfolk Police's Operation Impact will take place on the last weekend before Christmas when additional officers will be on patrol to make sure people have a safe night out.

Norwich policing commander, superintendent Terry Lordan said arresting someone for a lower-level offence such as being drunk and disorderly can potentially avoid more serious offences taking place.

Supt Terry Lordan, District Commander for Norwich Police. Picture: Nick Butcher

Supt Terry Lordan, District Commander for Norwich Police. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

He added: "We want people to go out and have a good time and most people want to enjoy themselves at Christmas.

"I’m sure most people who end up in a police cell don’t intend to end their night that way.

"But we’ve probably all seen before that too much alcohol can have unintended consequences. So our message is enjoy yourself but know your limits."

It comes as police data shows Norfolk had 71 arrests per 100,000 people for drunk and disorderly offences in 2020 alone.

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There were a total of 655 arrests for drunk and disorderly behaviour in Norfolk in 2020 compared to 1,066 in 2019, 912 in 2018 and 827 in 2017. 

And a number of city venues are gearing up for the return of festive gatherings in the post-lockdown world.

Richard Chisnell, owner of Sherbet Lemon in Prince of Wales Road, said one of the difficulties around Christmas is the dynamic of different age groups and activities.  

Richard Chisnell

Richard Chisnell, owner of Sherbet Lemon - Credit: Archant

He explained: “Often you get people who start drinking with a Christmas meal out and then they just keep drinking into the night, as well as all the people who just go out for drinks.  

“You also gets groups of people and dynamics which usually we wouldn’t see together – teenagers going out with people into their 60s, all of which drink at different rates.” 

Isabel Blythe, general manager of the Coach and Horses in Thorpe Road, added: "Bar managerial staff are trained to recognise if something is happening before it becomes problematic. We nip it in the bud.

The Coach and Horses in Thorpe Road. Picture: GoogleMaps

The Coach and Horses in Thorpe Road. Picture: GoogleMaps - Credit: GoogleMaps

"We are an establishment which is serving food 75pc of the time so we encourage Christmas bookings to have buffet food so it is not just alcohol.

"If we feel someone has come drunk we no longer serve them in a kind way to not escalate the situation."

Top tips to stay safe at night over Christmas period

The SOS Bus runs on Friday and Saturday nights as a first point of contact for anyone visiting Norwich’s pubs and clubs who has got into difficulty.

Beth Williams, SOS Bus development manager, said those attending Christmas parties in the city should use common sense by having a decent meal, avoiding pre-loading and pre-booking taxis.

The SOS Bus and volunteers

The SOS Bus and volunteers - Credit: SOS Bus

She said people often get into trouble because they have been separated from friends who cannot hear their mobile phone in noisy venues. 

The manager explained: "It's the very small things which makes a big difference to whether people end up in the taxi with their mates or in a SOS Bus. 

 "Enjoy yourself, have a good laugh. It is great to be back out again but look out for each other. That is our big message." 

A SOS Bus in Prince of Wales Road on a Saturday night 

A SOS Bus in Prince of Wales Road on a Saturday night - Credit: SOS Bus

The SOS Bus team is made up of a paid paramedic and security officer, as well as two volunteer St John's Ambulance first aiders, a shift coordinator and three volunteers on shift support.