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Posted on Friday 23 September 2022

A new initiative designed to keep revellers safe is being rolled out across Durham city centre this month.

Door staff at bars and nightclubs are being equipped to breathalyse drinkers with the aim that it will stop the culture of pre-loading, and therefore giving them a better chance to make more informed decisions on a night out.

Several venues have started using the devices this week, which act as a guide for staff when knowing who to allow inside.

The initiative, which has been funded by the Safer Streets scheme and Durham Parish Council, has been implemented elsewhere in the country in recent years, resulting in a significant drop in violent crime.

The breathalysers operate on a lights system and the accepted level is based on people enjoying a sociable drink and will indicate if potentially unsafe levels of intoxication are reached.

The roll-out coincides with the launch of The Hub @ St Nic’s Church earlier this year, which offers support to those who need it on nights out.

The Durham City Safety Group opened it earlier this year to provide anyone who is unwell, vulnerable or a victim of crime a safe space to get any support they might need.

Welfare officers are also on hand inside clubs and bars and plans are being put in place for street friends’ volunteers to give drinkers support as they move about the city centre.

Plans are in place for specially trained CCTV operators to work on busier nights to help spot anyone who may be vulnerable and need support from the police, city medics or The Hub.

Additional lighting is also planned for areas highlighted as areas of concern by members of the public.

Durham City Neighbourhood Inspector Dave Clarke said: “We are committed to making sure people are safe when they are on a night out.

“Sadly, time and again we see the negative effects alcohol has on people, whether it be through violence against others, anti-social behaviour or not being aware of their surroundings.

“Not everyone will be breathalysed, it will be down to door staff to judge those individuals who might benefit from not drinking any more that night.

“We want everyone to have a great night, but we also want to make sure they make it home safely, and without causing any disruption to residents.”

Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Joy Allen said: “This initiative is a welcome addition to our night-time economy and a step in the right direction for keeping our revellers safe.

“I hope that we will be able to follow the example of other areas who have introduced the breathalysers, in reducing violence crime incidences on our streets.

“When used appropriately this scheme will ensure that whilst the public can enjoy an evening out, they also don’t exceed a safe limit of alcohol consumption leading them to put their own health, safety and that of the public in danger.

“As part of my plan, the safer streets fund has allowed us to implement the night-time safety hub along with the breathalyser initiative, additional lighting and CCTV across the city centre.

“We have already seen successes from the safety hub and we will proceed in the hope that our other additions can make further strides in improving our city centres for all in the community.”

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