Extra police patrols on the look out for 'predatory behaviour' to make women feel safer

Extra patrols will be out on New Year's Eve to try and make women feel safer. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Extra police patrols will be out in force on New Year's Eve - with a focus on keeping women safe.

Officers from Cleveland Police have been out on the streets throughout the Christmas festivities to provide a reassuring presence to women enjoying a night out.

And they will be out again for New Year - one of the busiest nights for pubs and clubs.

The extra patrols are about keeping the streets safe but also to help prevent violence against women and girls.

Detective Superintendent Helen Barker, of Cleveland Police, said: "The officers are very visible to make people feel safer. They are also looking out for predatory behaviour. We know these acts don't happen out of the blue -  actually, often men are seeking out women who particularly have had too much to drink - but those women should feel like they can go out and have a drink and feel safe. 

"We absolutely have to tackle this together. This is not just a policing issue, this is a society issue."

Police have been patrolling the streets, keeping in contact with door staff and partygoers alike and trying to encourage people to call out any inappropriate behaviour. 

Meanwhile in Darlington, Number Forty in Skinnergate is a 'safe space' for women to visit if they need it.

Number 40 in Darlington is a safe space for people who need it when out in the town at night. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Former police officer Chris Knox set up the scheme with the help of Home Office funding to stop violence against women and girls.

He said: "Anyone who is vulnerable, intimidated, threatened or is a victim of crime can come here and seek help. Or they can just call in and have a chat and a cup of coffee. Any vulnerability, we can try and address."

The service is for anyone, from any victims of crime to people with mental health problems, or even just people who need to charge their phone or swap their high heels for flip flops.

Chris' team of volunteers give out handbag bells, attack alarms, bottled water and even lollipops, as well as blankets to keep people warm. 

There is security on the door and a secure room with a panic alarm if anyone is in immediate danger.

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