Leeds patrols target festive sex attackers

Winter patrols to try to prevent unwary revellers becoming victims of sex attacks will be out on Leeds streets.

The patrols are part of "Operation Northdale" and will also be seen in other West Yorkshire cities and towns including Wakefield in the run-up to Christmas.

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Vulnerable people making their way home and people at risk of having their drinks spiked with alcohol and memory affecting drugs will be among those people the scheme aims to help and protect.

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Police officers, with police volunteers from the West Yorkshire force, NHS, the probation service, "street angels" and city centre nght marshalls will be linking up and working closely together over the festive season.

The project, which received national recognition at the ACPO 2010 Excellence in Policing Awards this summer, is reckoned to have helped reduce sexual offences by more than 70 per cent over the last two years.

Over the next fortnight the teams will be patrolling the town and city centres pin-pointing identifying vulnerable people and assisting them wherever possible.

During both the day and night they will meet and greet revellers at key areas giving advice on how to stay safe on a night out and distributing items such as Love Heart sweets, anti-drink spiking devices and leaflets containing safety messages.

In a bid to increase the numbers of people receiving the guidance, safety messages will be sent to party-goers via Bluetooth technology with the support of representatives from the O2 network.

The operation has also been supported by, The Light centre in Leeds, Junction 32, Castleford; Mitchells and Butlers and Diageo who have contributed funding for the initiative.

Acting Chief Insp Jon Morgan of the Local Policing Department, said: "Christmas is a busy time of year in the pubs, bars and clubs and it is important that people know the risks that come with alcohol and the impact it can have opeople's safety, and not make themselves vulnerable."

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