By Anna Riley
REVELLERS are gearing up for “Mad Friday” in Leeds this evening, as many people celebrate the last day of work in the run up to Christmas.
And it could be a double dose of partying as the infamous event is also expected to happen next Friday due to Christmas Day falling on a Sunday.
According to figures from Public Health England and Alcohol Concern, sales of booze in pubs, clubs, restaurants and hotels across the UK increased by 142% on the final Friday before Christmas last year and may be set to rise this year.
This can put extra strain on emergency services and voluntary organisations, who have more drunken merrymakers to care for.
Katie Waters, project coordinator at Street Angels, a group of volunteers who help people to get home safe after their night out, said: “We are expecting it to be a bit busier this evening than a normal Friday due to Christmas celebrations and due to this, we are sending out more volunteers.
“We normally only cover Fridays but are also going out on Saturday this weekend.
“Our volunteers will be on hand with bottles of water to rehydrate people, flip flops for ladies that have taken off their shoes and foil blankets to keep people warm.”
Street Angels have given tips on how drinkers can stay safe:
Business Against Crime in Leeds, a crime prevention partnership, has employed a team of street marshals in Leeds, who will be on hand tonight.
Manager Sean Walker said: “In previous years our marshals have provided valuable help to lots and lots of people, including those who imbibe a bit too much festive spirit!
“The last three Christmases we have seen drops in the number of recorded incidents and we hope to continue the trend this year.”
Bars in Leeds are also gearing up for extra custom tonight.
Harry Boner, duty manager at Wetherspoons in Leeds train station said: “We are putting on more staff tonight and an extra two bouncers to cope with the demand and any incidents that might take place.
“The British Transport Police are also nearby so any miscreants will be picked up by them.”
West Yorkshire Police are not anticipating any extra trouble this evening, so it will be business as usual for them.
Lucy Price, press officer at West Yorkshire Police said: “The police will not be doing anything specific and are just treating it as a normal Friday.
“It is the hype that is created around Mad Friday that can actually sometimes make things worse.”
For information on responsible drinking, visit https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/