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Police keeping streets safe on biggest party night
Buy this photo » Pc Isaac van den Eshof, front right, and other officers arrest a man for striking another person in front of a police officer. Pictures: OX56147 Greg Blatchford
DEALING with brawls, vomiting teenagers, and confused tourists, is all part of a night’s work for Oxford city police.
Dressed in a fluorescent jacket marked ‘Civilian Observer’ I ventured out with them on a cold Friday night in December. When their nightshift begins at 8pm, Nightsafe officers are briefed on what and who to look out for.
Pc Isaac van den Eshof uses the early quiet time to chat to bar and club staff to see how many tickets they sold and what they are expecting.
Pc van den Eshof said: “An average night you know you are going to be dealing with fights, drunkenness – people who have had way too much too drink. That’s typical of a Friday or Saturday night.”
But he said a key part of the job was to make sure people stayed safe and out of trouble.
He said: “It’s not just about reacting, it’s about high visibility, patrolling and liaising with door staff. We’re not just here to penalise people, we look after vulnerable people.”
Police and door staff communciate via Radio Link – the same network used to catch shoplifters.
The first drama of the night comes as an 18-year-old girl is found being sick in the doorway of STA Travel in George Street. Next to her is a half empty bottle of rose wine.
Pc van den Eshof calls the girl’s dad and the teenager is left in the care of the volunteer Street Pastors.
We are soon beckoned over by a young man who found a student lying on the ground vomiting outside Boots in Cornmarket Street. But the student is left with Pc Smith as a call comes in about an assault in Blue Boar Street.
We find seven police officers restraining a man outside The Bear pub. He is arrested on suspicion of a public order offence.
Returning to Cornmarket Street, we find the student being lifted into an ambulance. As midnight passes and the temperature drops to 2C, drinkers are still out in force, some with very scant clothing.
We soon get a call to student club The Junction in Park End Street where a young man is being kicked out.
Door staff say he was throwing ice but when asked to leave he swung a punch. Police ban the troublemaker from the city until 9am.
After a tea break at St Aldate’s Police Station we patrol Oxpens Road before a call to Hythe Bridge Street where someone has been punched in the face. We find an Asian tourist with a bloody mouth but no-one is willing to say how it happened.
Revellers start emptying the clubs at 3am and police and door staff try to stop them from straying into the road.
By 3.37am the streets are empty. It’s time to go home.