Juliette Bains: Crime figures are warning sign for Mad Friday mayhem

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IF YOU’RE the kind of person that hates the thought of being amongst hordes of intoxicated party-goers as they stagger down the street and shout obscenities at strangers, then you might want to opt for a quiet night in tomorrow.

For the evening of alcohol-fuelled partying known as Mad Friday is upon us.

It’s well known that on this night, due to the amount of works dos and festive nights out, emergency services are pushed to their limit as many of us party just a little too hard.

Thousands of revellers hit the town to drink and dance the night away – with several ending up in A&E through alcohol-related antics.

It’s one of the busiest days of the year for the emergency services, and as we speak, legions of beleaguered bobbies and nurses will be gearing up to deal with an influx of intoxicated clubbers.

We call it Mad Friday in Yorkshire, but it goes by a more grisly moniker elsewhere in the country.

I recently learned that in the north-west, the night has been dubbed ‘Black Eye Friday’, due to the amount of fights that break out at bars and pubs.

That doesn’t bode well for a peaceful night on the tiles when you consider that this week it’s been revealed that street crime statistics in Leeds city centre are on the rise, with nightlife hotspots among the most risky areas.

Unsurprisingly Call Lane tops the list.

The road, which is one of the city’s most popular party districts, made it to the number one spot on a top 10 list of city centre streets with the highest overnight crime figures for the last three years.

Crime in the area has more than trebled in six years, according to figures in a Leeds City Council licensing committee report, which revealed there were a staggering 778 recorded night-time offences on Call Lane in 2013 – up from just 228 in 2008.

The most common reports were of thefts and drunk and disorderly offences which, if you’ve ever been out in that area, may not be that shocking.

Other streets that made the list include Briggate, Albion Street, The Headrow, Woodhouse Lane, Boar Lane, Hirst’s Yard/Duncan Street, Great George Street, Cookridge Street and Kirkgate.

Being honest, most of us could have guessed at least five out of the 10.

But, as previously reported in the YEP, businesses owners and police say city centre crime is now falling and insist the area is safe, pointing to the fact that violent crime had dropped significantly and extra police officers mean more criminals are now being caught.

Fair enough, but it’s still disturbing to think that, extra police or not, there are so many people wanting to spoil your evening by stealing your stuff or worse.

I’m sure a significant number of us have had something nicked on a night out and it seems all too common these days.

In fact, I had a phone stolen last year, and a friend had her entire bag stolen just a few days ago.

And sadly, stats from Business Against Crime in Leeds said phone thefts made up 70 per cent of all items stolen from people in the city last year.

But perhaps the reality is that this is the age we live in and it’s unavoidable that there will be unscrupulous individuals out there wanting to take advantage of others who are just out for a good night, whether that’s by stealing their stuff or trying to start a fight in the taxi queue.

We can look at statistics all day long but these days, sadly, the lion’s share of the responsibility for making sure our bars and clubs are a safe place to party lies with us looking out for ourselves.

So if you are heading out tomorrow, take care and have a safe and merry Mad Friday!

Leeds United 1992 League Champions.  Leeds United v Sheffield United, title winning match, 26th April 1992.  Players celebrate. From left: Jon Newsome, Gary Speed, Gary McAllister and Eric Cantona with John Lukic behind.

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