Worthing and Adur councils have issued safety advice ahead of the festive season.
The following is a report from the council in its entirety:
The Christmas holiday is the time for festivities, the work’s do, family parties and general good cheer.
Pubs and clubs are busy and most of us tend to drink more than we usually do and sometimes far more than we should!
It is the time of the year to see colleagues, friends and relatives, enjoy ourselves and let our hair down.
However, whilst we want to enjoy ourselves, there are a few simple precautions that anyone can take to stay safe and minimise our personal risk.
Leave the car at home if you are going to have any contact with alcohol. Do not drink and drive.
Keep your mobile phone handy , with credit and charge.
If possible, plan your evening and make sure friends and/or a loved one knows where you’re going and who you are with.
At a pub, club or party do not leave drinks unattended and do not leave, or let a friend leave, alone or with strangers. If you find yourself alone in a pub, club or party and you are receiving unwanted attention from a stranger, or strangers, do not be frightened to talk to the licensee, bar staff or door staff.
They are well aware of the perils and will assist you.
If approached in the street and being coerced you must draw attention to your predicament.
There are extra police on duty in the town centres in the evenings and there are door staff outside most town centre venues, marshals at the Worthing town centre taxi rank, lots of licensed taxi drivers and other late-night workers.
Worthing Street Pastors and other members of the public will also be about.
Make someone aware you are in distress.
The obvious advice to anyone partying and enjoying themselves is to try not to drink too much and don’t get separated from your friends.
It is important to have your wits about you, not to leave yourself vulnerable and to make sure none of your friends are left in such a predicament.
Getting a Cab
Do not accept lifts from strangers or anyone you suspect has been drinking.
Over the Christmas festivities anyone partying, if not using a designated driver from among their group of friends or getting a friend or relative to pick them up, will likely need a taxi to get home afterwards.
Official registered taxis offer the public a safe and convenient means of transport and are particularly useful vital the festivities when “Xmas cheer” is so abundant.
Whilst a very rare occurrence in Adur or Worthing, a number of people over the years have been attacked by “cab drivers”.
Nationally, the vast majority of these attacks have been associated with unlicensed drivers, in unlicensed vehicles.
It’s common sense and vital that the public, particularly those considered vulnerable – such as single lone females – only use a licensed taxi or a licensed private hire operator.
Licensed taxi and private hire drivers have passed a criminal record check, a health check and passed an exam.
Licensed vehicles have undergone stringent safety checks and have valid insurance.
There are obviously no such guarantees with unlicensed cars and drivers.
Unlicensed drivers sometimes have ulterior motives.
Here are a number of simple steps to assure yourself that the vehicle you are entering is licensed.
These precautions will help to ensure your safety when using taxis and private hire vehicles:
If in Worthing town centre do not try and flag cars down. Go to the taxi rank. In South Street Square SIA registered Taxi Marshals are deployed from midnight until 5am to look after the public and assure their safety.
If possible, book your taxi or private hire vehicle well in advance from a reputable firm, particularly during the busy holiday nights.
You do not want to be left waiting in the street.
Many venue staff will book a vehicle for you if you ask nicely.
If booking in advance, ask for your driver’s name and what sort of car he will be driving, then when the car arrives, make sure it is your car by confirming the driver’s name or making sure he/she confirms yours.
It is vital to make sure the vehicle is licensed.
All licensed taxis and private hire vehicles should have a licence plate at the top left corner of the windscreen with the vehicle’s details, and another on the back of the vehicle.
Do NOT approach a “likely” car and ask “can you take me to ...?”
This is inviting serious problems at any time, but this is particularly so if you are on your own.
When you are happy the vehicle is licensed, make sure the driver is licensed as well.
He will be wearing a photo ID badge around his neck, matching the plate on the car, issued by Adur District or Worthing Borough Council.
If your vehicle is a taxi, or a private hire Vehicle using a meter, make sure the meter is not already clocking up a fare.
But remember the driver is entitled to charge you if you have kept him waiting.
Do not sit in the front unless absolutely necessary and try not to engage the driver in too much conversation – he does not need the distraction.
Please do not phone for half a dozen cars and take the first one to arrive.
This hurts driver’s ability to make a living and other people will have to wait longer for a car.
Furthermore, many companies now have caller ID on their phone systems, and will automatically block a call from a “timewaster”.
You may not find this out until you need a car urgently and cannot get one.
Do not take a private hire car booked by someone else.
If the driver takes you without a proper booking he may not have insurance.
That means that you will not be covered while a passenger in his car.
If you are injured in an accident, it is too late to get insurance cover.
No-one needs insurance until they really need it, and by then it is far, far too late.
Finally, pay the driver. He has done you a service and should be paid for it. If you do not pay, you could end up in court.