Increase in police officers watching for suspicious activity and predatory behaviour on weekend nights out
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Officers working as part of Operation Kayak, the policing initiative that aims to keep people safe on weekend nights out, will have more ears and eyes looking out for suspicious activity and predatory behaviours, as they join with police officers working Night-safe duties in town centres.
Tackling violence against women and girls is a matter of priority for Northamptonshire Police, and this summer, in addition to dedicated Op Kayak officers, any officer deployed to patrol the night-time economy is briefed to be proactively on the lookout for sexual aggression, harassment, inappropriate or predatory behaviours.
The Operation Kayak patrols have proved to be extremely effective at reducing offending behaviour and in safeguarding the vulnerable on nights out.
Detective Inspector Liz Basham said: “Operation Kayak is a very effective proactive operation, and we are really pleased with the progress made so far. We are reducing offending and successfully protecting the public by being a visible presence, watching for and challenging suspicious activity and predatory behaviour.
“Our Op Kayak officers are routinely patrolling town centres in Northamptonshire during the night-time economy to help everyone safely enjoy themselves – but we’re widening the reach by briefing and linking up with other officers patrolling the town.”
“Officers will challenge inappropriate behaviours, look out for individuals who are being sexually aggressive, or intimidating, or whose behaviour causes concern. They will also check the wellbeing of those who are vulnerable, and assist them where necessary to get support.”
Policing teams are actively watching for individuals loitering or driving around the town without reason, men repeatedly approaching women in the street, invading their personal space, or making them feel uncomfortable. Officers will keep a close eye out for individuals with known offending histories and risk factors. On occasion drug detection dogs may be deployed to assist the operational teams.
In the last 12 months the team have approached 426 individuals displaying predatory behaviours, made 165 arrests, which includes 44 arrests for sexual offences - including rape and sexual assault.
Officers have also engaged with 553 vulnerable people, checked 147 vehicles, and attended 239 unrelated incidents, such a drink driving, and other driving related offences, assaults, public order offences and drug possession.
Op Kayak officers continue to work closely with pubs and clubs and with door staff, so that patrons remain safe, and any concerning behaviours can be quickly flagged and dealt with. The team also liaise with the street pastors, Northampton Guardians, and volunteers who work on the Safer Nights Out Van (SNO van), to ensure the vulnerable are looked after and safeguarded.
Help on a night out
If you need help on a night out, speak to venue or door staff, street pastors or police officers.
Help is also available via the Safer Nights Out (SNO) van, a customised minibus staffed by vetted volunteers in the centre of Northampton between 10pm and 5am every Friday and Saturday.
If you see any behaviours that concern you on a night out, tell venue staff immediately or call the police.
Report non-emergency crime via 101 or online at www.northants.police.uk/RO, or in an emergency, always call 999.
Advice for staying safe on a night out
In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need to share this advice, but sadly there are people who may look to take advantage of you on a night out, so:
Be aware of what and how much you are drinking – your tolerance for alcohol varies according to a range of factors.
Always look after your drinks. Don’t leave them unattended, don’t take drinks from strangers or pick up drinks at random – you have no way of knowing what’s in them.
Stick with your friends – keep an eye on each other and have a plan for getting home safely.
If you have any concerns about someone’s behaviour or wellbeing, report it immediately to venue staff or to police.