DECEMBER 2021: News from the Mayor Marvin Rees

November 19 2021

Keeping our city safe at night this Christmas

December is a busy time for our city’s restaurants, cafes, pubs, theatres and night time venues. And this year in particular, when so many of us are looking forward to being able to socialise more freely in the run up to Christmas, we want everyone in the city to feel safe when enjoying Bristol’s nightlife.
That’s why we’ve been working with partners in the city in recent months to drive a series of projects and campaigns to make sure everyone is confident returning to our city’s thriving nightlife scene.
You may have seen posters across the city as part of our award-winning Bristol Rules campaign. These set out information on how to have a great and safe night out in our city, from looking after your mates to calling out inappropriate behaviour and respecting others.
Building on the success of this campaign, we have launched a new initiative to stop drink spiking in the city. Despite carrying a sentence of up to ten years in prison, prosecution rates are shockingly low. We know many people in the city are concerned about drink-spiking, and that’s why even before stories about this issue hit the headlines, we were taking action to raise awareness and put a stop to it.
As well as reassuring people that reports of drink spiking will be taken seriously, guidance has been issued to venues so staff know how to handle incidents and support the police in their investigations. Crucially, police will be equipped with testing kits to test both victims and drinks. This is especially important as the window for gathering evidence is short, with some drugs leaving the person’s system in as little as 12 hours, making early testing critical.
I am particularly pleased that our leadership on this work has been recognised by government. We have recently been awarded £282,000 by the Home Office to improve women’s safety in the city at night. This will see us implement a women’s safety charter, deliver training to staff in venues on tackling sexual harassment and provide additional drink spiking testing kits.
This funding is testament to the way we have worked in partnership not only with our city’s venues, but with Avon and Somerset Police, the City Centre Business Improvement District, our universities and the NHS. The expertise of the Bristol@Night Panel, and organisations such as One25, SARSAS, and the Bristol Women’s Commission have been crucial in shaping our response. I want to pay particular tribute to our Night Time Economy Advisor, Carly Heath, for her dedication in driving this crucial work.
I hope that through this work, and our ongoing efforts to keep Bristol open and accessible this winter, Bristolians will have the opportunity to enjoy our city’s incredible nightlife over this festive season. However you choose to celebrate, I wish everyone a safe and merry Christmas.