Lots of people spend the festive period celebrating with family and friends. While most do so responsibly, unfortunately we do traditionally see an increase in violent incidents at this time of year – mainly as a result of excessive alcohol consumption.
To tackle this, we run Operation Morris in the run up to Christmas and into the New Year - our response to policing busy town centres over key festive dates. Officers have been on patrol in vans in all of our main towns to ensure that celebrations can be enjoyed safely.
Both myself and Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire have been out with our officers on Op Morris patrols this Christmas, and it’s been fantastic to see how our teams manage the demand they face during this time of year.
A lot of planning goes into running Operation Morris, and this involves teams across the force – not just those extra officers you see on patrol. Our Operational Planning Unit plan the operation, our Intelligence team assess the resources needed to provide this extra support, resources are allocated by our Resource Management Unit, and operators in our Force Contact Centre provide support to the officers on the ground as well as taking 999 and 101 calls.
Our Licensing Team also work closely with licensed premises in the run up to the festive period (in addition to their work throughout the year), to build relationships with licensees and take action against unacceptable alcohol-related behaviour, like anti-social behaviour or underage sales, at licensed premises.
Alcohol is not an excuse for violent behaviour. Please drink responsibly, and don’t drink too much before you go out.
The Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Roads Policing Unit have also been on patrol to enforce the law around drink and drug driving, carrying out roadside tests to ensure that other road users are safe.
Drink driving is unacceptable, and being caught over the limit will mean you lose your driving licence and could mean that you spend time behind bars. Please don’t drink and drive; if you’re drinking alcohol, please arrange alternative transport to make sure you get home safely.
Alcohol takes a long time to be processed by the body, so bear this in mind the following morning. No matter how much sleep you have had, or coffee you have drunk, if you are over the legal limit, you are breaking the law.
It is also not ok to force sexual acts on someone because they are drunk, because you know them, are in a relationship with them or have had sex with them before. No means no, and if someone is unable to give their consent, it is rape.
Whilst I want to wish you all a very Happy New Year and I hope you enjoy your celebrations knowing the force is here to help protect you, I also want to give a more serious message.
The consequences of violent, inappropriate or alcohol-fuelled behaviour can last a lifetime and may not only impact on your life, but countless other lives too. Please enjoy yourself but be mindful of your actions.
Deputy Chief Constable Garry Forsyth