A different kind of bus can be seen in Halifax Town Centre on Saturday nights in December offering shelter and support to party-goers and revellers who may be feeling the effects of an evening drinking.
West Yorkshire Police has teamed up with Calderdale Council and other partners from across the district to bring the yellow double-decker bus in to the heart of the town centre. Staffed by special constables, police volunteers, Street Angels and volunteers from BusOasis the place of safety is a unique, and often welcome stop to those who may be in need.
Donated by BusOasis, the vehicle is stocked with bottled water, flip flops and spikeys; Parked up on George Street, the bus is also kitted out with mobile phone charging points and hot drink facilities. Volunteers offer advice, guidance and support to users, and can help them to get home safely by referring them to licensed taxi's home, or by making sure they are safely inside one of the nightclubs or bars, and not left wandering around vulnerable in the town centre.
Open between 8pm and midnight, officers and volunteers will also be providing valuable crime prevention and safety messages to people, and helping them to enjoy themselves responsibly and safely.
Police Constable Ben Doughty of Halifax Neighbourhood Policing Team said; "The bus was a great success last Saturday in Halifax, with over 150 people stopping by to see what it was about, and taking some support from our volunteers. It will be back again this weekend and helps to set the tone of the night for revellers in town.
"Working with our partners is an excellent way to help share the demand of a busy night in the town, allowing uniformed officers to attend more serious incidents, whilst ensuring the safety of any vulnerable people. Having colleagues and volunteers located with a place of safety is also an excellent way for us to positively engage with the community, and shows people that there is a positive visible presence that they can call on if they need them. Halifax town centre also maintains its Purple Flag status, ensuring it is a safe and vibrant evening destination for people across the county."
BusOasis Lead Worker Sharon Lawrance said; "Busoasis has worked successfully with police in Halifax town centre over the last 18 months tackling ASB in and around the bus station area. We are very much looking forward to extending that work with them and the Street Angels to provide a safe refuge for party goers leading up to Christmas."
Adrian Broadhead, Chair of Halifax Pub Watch said; “The safety and enjoyment of customers is always our main priority and we work closely with fellow operators and local authorities to drive standards in the town. This event is just one example of the great things that the late night economy is doing to make Halifax a fun, vibrant and safe environment for all. We hope to see more of this activity during the festive period.”
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, Cllr Steve Sweeney, said: “This is another example of the Council and Police working together to tackle anti-social behaviour and crime issues that matter to local people.
“Having a safe and welcoming place for a night out is vital all year around, but especially at this time of year with festive celebrations meaning nightlife in Halifax will be a lot busier. The BusOasis will provide a safe haven for revellers if needed, and will help make sure that everyone has the great night out that they intended.”
The bus will be parked up in George Street between 8pm and midnight again this Saturday, 19 December.