PUBS and other licensed premises in Didcot have launched a new initiative to keep night-time drinkers safe.

Fourteen businesses have now signed up to the Nightsafe scheme, pledging to help Thames Valley Police and other agencies to reduce alcohol-related crime.

The initiative has been backed by Thames Valley Police and other agencies.

By becoming Nightsafe members, pub landlords will agree to attend Pubwatch meetings, sign up to a drugs prevention initiative, and support alcohol awareness campaigns.

They will also make sure their staff are trained in fire safety drills, drugs awareness, and managing alcohol misuse.

John Colthird, 67, who runs Greene King pub The Ladygrove in Cow Lane, welcomed the scheme, which was launched last week.

He said: “I think this is a really good idea and builds on the Pubwatch advice that pub landlords should talk to each other as much as possible.

“If there is trouble at one pub, landlords can phone each other up and tip each other off.

“Anything that makes pubs safer for drinkers is a good idea.”

Mr Colthird, who has managed the pub for the past seven years, said the scheme was designed to reduce antisocial behaviour.

He added: “Fortunately we do not get a lot of trouble here – the last time there was a fight was during the World Cup in 2010.

“England were playing and the police were called after a fight outside. I called landlords in other pubs to let them know what was happening.”

The town’s Pubwatch chairman Kelly Beard, who runs The Wheatsheaf in Wantage Road, added: “By signing up, we hope people will recognise our commitment to ensuring our premises are a safe place.”

The launch of Nightsafe in Didcot is supported by the South and Vale Community Safety Partnership, South Oxfordshire District Council, Thames Valley Police, Oxfordshire County Council, and Pubwatch.

SODC’s cabinet member for community safety Bill Service said: “The pubs have already seen the benefits of working together, from campaigns such as ‘Take it slow have an H20’, which was launched earlier this year to encourage people to alternate their drinks with water during the summer.”

Insp Mark Harling, Thames Valley Police neighbourhood inspector for South Oxfordshire, said: “Didcot is a low crime area, and the Nightsafe scheme will help keep it that way.

“We work closely with our licensees and through Nightsafe we will be able to strengthen and maintain these links.”

In April last year, police stepped up night-time patrols in Broadway to reduce assaults prompted by night-time drinking.

Patrols were increased after residents complained about disturbances during the early hours at both ends of the street.