POLICE officers and publicans are preparing as thousands of revellers are set to descend on Bolton town centre for Mad Friday.
With tomorrow being the closest Friday to Christmas, Bolton's pubs and clubs are expected to be filled with revellers finishing work for the festive period.
Last year saw a number of arrests and a large fire at the En-Vogue nightclub in Bradshawgate, with the road being closed off for several hours.
Inspector Dave Henthorne of Bolton police will lead the operation as one of 15 officers dedicated to responding to any incidents on Friday and Saturday night.
He said: "We are expecting to be incredibly busy — it is one of our highest periods of demand throughout the year.
"We have put in a lot of planning and have worked with the pubs and clubs to make sure they act responsibly on the night. They and their door staff also have a responsibility."
It is forecast to be wet tomorrow night, but Insp Henthorne said this can work both ways for officers.
He added: "It can dampen down any trouble, but also people might stay in the clubs and then come out en masse, so we will work to whatever happens."
In addition to the police, volunteers from Bolton Street Angels will be out helping people who are worse for wear.
Adrienne Tonge, chairman of the group, said a team of three people will also be out on Saturday night to assist.
She said: "It was quite dramatic last year with the fire at the nightclub so that seemed to take over the whole night.
"This year Mad Friday is a whole week before Christmas, so whether people are as hyped up as in previous years, we don't know.
"Most people are good natured but inevitably the night will go wrong for some people. But we will be there to make sure people get home safely."
The North West Ambulance Service is calling on revellers to make sure they drink responsibly while enjoying Mad Friday.
Bosses said last year there was a 12.5 per cent rise in overall calls in comparison to 2013, many of which they say were caused by drunken incidents which could have been avoided.
Derek Cartwright, director of operations at the ambulance service, also revealed one party-goer had called requesting an ambulance to be put on standby for later that night.
He said: "This is the kind of behaviour and expectations which must change.
"Ambulances are not mobile first aid providers, we don’t give lifts home when people can’t get a taxi. While we were trying to explain to this caller why we couldn’t provide an ambulance on standby, someone was trying to get through.
He added: "In genuine life-threatening emergencies, time matters. So if people stop and think about drinking this Christmas and take a sensible approach, they can play their part in helping to ensuring ambulance crews are free to attend to vulnerable and very poorly people."
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