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Specials out to combat payday drunks

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: October 31, 2012

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SPECIAL constables have been running extra patrols to combat Cheltenham's pay day drunks.

A team of seven volunteer officers were on call throughout last weekend as part of a scheme to bolster police resources at the end of the month.

It came as officers voiced concerns Cheltenham's night time economy was being endangered by people blowing their monthly wages on alcohol, leaving a trail of chaos in their wake.

Problems associated with pay day include an increase in fighting and vandalism.

Section officer Richard Godfrey, who is running the initiative, said it had got off to a good start.

"Our special officers were on duty at the weekend and we were able to deploy them to wherever they were most needed," he said.

"It went very well. In the event there was little in the way of incidents to direct them towards.

"But, nevertheless, they looked to have a maximum presence in the community while they were out.

"There was one arrest for violent behaviour and three warnings were issued.

"Above all there was a lot of engagement with youngsters because, being half term, there were a lot of them about."

Under the operation, a team of specials will be on call at the end of every month, with their next mission in Cheltenham scheduled for Friday, November 30 and Saturday, December 1.

Richard added: "We do see a spike in anti-social behaviour towards the end of the month, linked to the night time economy

"Hopefully having specials out on patrols during those times will have an impact on reducing that.

"As we move towards Christmas it's important to maintain a strong presence in the community and this will be a valuable part of us achieving that aim."

Under the operation, the specials are given rapid response vehicles, enabling them to be at the scene of any incident as quickly as possible.

Colin Pilsworth, who works with Cheltenham Nightsafe – a support network for staff at the town's pubs, clubs and late night restaurants – welcomed the move.

He said: "Like anywhere, things can occasionally spill over when there are a lot of people out in town at the end of the month.

"If this will help keep a lid on things and provide people with an element of reassurance, then I'm all for it."

A total of 183 special constables in Gloucestershire give up their free time to support the regular force.

While on duty they wear a uniform and have full police powers.

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  • Steve_Thomas  |  November 05 2012, 1:57PM

    @username123: "And what possible skills do they bring t the party?" Might I suggest the same transferrable skills and qualities that have enabled them to succeed in their day job? Customer-facing skills, professionalism, enthusiasm, tenacity, experience of working outside the police culture. Some may well have a higher level of education than regular officers, or even their superiors. Not claiming they possess superhuman qualities, but at the same time I'm not dismissing out of hand by asking such a cynical and rhetorical question.

  • username123  |  October 31 2012, 8:56PM

    cant agree Steve, they are not highly trained and are support staff, not winged warriors. And what possible skills do they bring t the party?

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  • Steve_Thomas  |  October 31 2012, 8:27PM

    Specials are well-trained, and have more powers than regular PCSOs, so don't worry about them. Also, they bring a broad range of experience from other walks of life besides policing, and they are there because they want to be, rather than just to earn a living, so chances are they will be highly committed to understanding, protecting and serving the public. And that, after all, is what police work should primarily be all about, not "combatting drunks", whether on pay-day or any other day.

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  • Ms_Superstar  |  October 31 2012, 8:01PM

    @tishwash: "Get every venue on board so that they can't get in anywhere (dictate it as part of the licensing conditions) that'll stop them quickly." You might be surprised what goes on behind the scenes in Cheltenham on a Friday and Saturday night. It's a bit like a Michael Crichton novel (think "Westworld" or "Jurassic Park"). If someone gets chucked out of any venue (obviously for a valid reason, not just the way they're dressed) then they may as well go home, because they probably won't get in anywhere else. Then at 6am, when most of the clubbers have gone home, the council turn up, empty the bins, sweep up the litter and hose down the streets ready for the shoppers (all of which is paid for handsomely by the night-time business rates, before the "is this what we pay our taxes for" crowd starts wailing). Pity they don't do the same after the shoppers have finished, but I suppose we can't have it all. Cheltenham town centre is at its most pleasant between 3am and 6am. And yes, I do include the daytime in that comparison.

  • tishwash  |  October 31 2012, 6:49PM

    So how about just arrest any causing issues and ban them from town for a month afterwards ? Get every venue on board so that they can't get in anywhere (dictate it as part of the licensing conditions) that'll stop them quickly.

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  • username123  |  October 31 2012, 6:34PM

    surely specials should be out supporting the regulars, not out on their own.

  • TIMONLINE2010  |  October 31 2012, 5:06PM

    Why end of the month? Does everyone get paid at month end?! Why do they need vehicles - surely they can be where they know to expect the trouble - ie the town centre?!

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  • Hello_TiG  |  October 31 2012, 4:34PM

    "....the specials are given rapid response vehicles...." Really?

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  • Doorstop  |  October 31 2012, 4:07PM

    It's not so much the pay-day drunks it's more events that cause such drunkenness and mis-behaviour, so deploy the Specials out at the conclusion of The Hunt Ball and the Annual Young Conservative and Young Farmers Christmas do's and we can all sleep soundly in our beds !

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  • Steve_Thomas  |  October 31 2012, 12:26PM

    Why 'combat pay-day drunks'? Many people are perfectly capable of getting drunk without causing any antisocial behaviour, damage, trouble or inconvenience to others. It's only a very small minority the police need to deal with. Leave the rest alone to enjoy themselves!

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