Police in Camden have teamed up with Camden Council and almost 50 licensed premises to provide more than 100 “Quiet Streets Marshals” at weekends to reduce crime.
It is considered to be the first large-scale initiative of its kind to disperse revellers more safely, quickly, and quietly and it also aims to reduce the impact of anti-social behaviour around residential areas in Camden Town.
According to Night-Time Economy (NTE) specialists, MAKE Associates; the Borough of Camden is the UK’s fourth largest NTE, worth an estimated £1bn per year. Only Westminster, Manchester and Birmingham have larger alcohol-led economies.
Venues in the Chalk Farm Road area began a trial in Autumn 2013 up until the New Year and its success has transformed into a long-term commitment, with phase two extending from Camden Lock Bridge down to Inverness Street joining the initiative in May 2014.
The final phases agreed to take part in July 2014 and the entire ‘Quiet Streets’ initiative now extends southwards from Chalk Farm Road, through Britannia Junction and along Camden High Street to Mornington Crescent.
Until the scheme was introduced, most licensed venues worked in isolation with their own dispersal policy. At closing time, staff would often usher patrons out of premises, close their doors, and police would be expected to deal with any issues thereafter.
These issues range from drunkenness, urinating in public, excessive noise, and violence. Often, it is nearby residents who suffer most of the anti-social behaviour. Venues now take a more active role in addressing the concerns of their residential neighbours.
Each venue now arranges for allocated staff to be outside their venue just before closing time and remain at their locations for 20-30 minutes thereafter to act as QS Marshals.
Each Marshal wears a distinctive, branded, two-tone high-visibility jacket. Within line of sight of their building they are the friendly face of the venue and of the licensed community; verbally engaging with revellers who may require directions to public toilets, night buses, or taxi ranks; or who may just need a reminder that they are in a residential area and to please keep the noise down.
There is no physical confrontation with patrons. Police are called in the event of a QS Marshal seeing any untoward activity. There is an increased usage of the CBAC radio system, linking venues directly with Camden Council CCTV Control Room, where police are also present.
On Friday and Saturday nights, as part of Operation Porlock, Camden Town has a large number of uniformed police officers on foot-patrol keeping people safe and helping to reduce alcohol-fuelled crime and disorder.
“High-Visibility acts as a natural deterrent to alcohol-fuelled trouble.” said Insp. Simon Brooker of Camden Police’s Central Neighbourhood Policing Team.
“To have an additional number of professional and aware individuals looking out for everyone’s safety on busy weekend nights; and to encourage revellers to get home quickly and quietly, is a great bonus to assist the work of the officers I deploy during peak times. This scheme helps deter street crime and reduces the number of potential victims.”
Simon Pitkeathley of CTU and CBAC said “To see venues, large and small, in Camden Town, working together more closely than ever before, is a testament to the enthusiasm of the licensed premises; and makes them stand out as a vital part of the broader community.”
PC Craig Austin said, “Alcohol harm can have a huge impact on modern policing and this scheme plays an important role in reducing alcohol-related violence and street crime. We’ve been encouraged to see so many venues wanting to work with us to make Camden Town’s weekend night-time economy even safer and a more pleasant experience. “
“From corner pubs and fast-food outlets, to major clubs and restaurants, the venues work together with us, Camden Council, CBAC and CCTV to get revellers home more quickly, safely, and quietly.”
He added, “This is ground-breaking partnership work in London and we’d like to thank all the venues involved for taking part; especially as we face the night time challenges through the busy autumn period, leading up to Christmas. If there is a need, more venues could join the scheme in future. Other London boroughs with similar issues may also look to adopt our model.”
Councillor Jonathan Simpson, Cabinet Member for Community Safety from Camden Council, said: “Camden’s fantastic array of pubs, clubs and bars are a major attraction for visitors near and far, and are a vital part of the borough’s character, history, and economy.
“This partnership between the Council, the Police, and venues in Camden allows everyone to enjoy a great night out in the borough while staying safe, and helps to minimise the impact on residents’ quality of life.”