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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

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All Cumbrian police cells full after Black Eye Friday

ALL of Cumbria’s police cells well full last night after thousands of revellers headed out for “Black Eye Friday”.

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Visit: From left, PC Kathryn Smyth and Police Sergeant Elizabeth Graham with Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes

Between 50 and 60 people were arrested by police.

A police spokesman said all the cells were full across the county with people who had committed anti-social behaviour offences.

He said there had been no serious incidents.

He said: “Cells were full right through from the afternoon until this morning.”

The Friday before Christmas is traditionally the most popular day for office parties, with many workplaces finishing for the festive break.

People hit the pubs early on in the day to begin their parties.

In the past this has led to violent flashpoints which is why the day was given its notorious nickname.

Tom Coward, who runs the Border Rambler in Botchergate, said it depended how the situation was managed. He had extra bar staff and door supervisors on duty.

He added: “If they’ve had too much to drink you don’t give them any more. You just try to nip it in the bud. Safety of staff and customers is paramount.”

Mr Coward said that, although it was still known by locals as ‘Black Eye Friday’, things were not as bad as they were 15 to 20 years ago. He added: “It’s a busy day of the year with everybody finishing for Christmas. It’s just people getting together.

“It’s busy – we have got a lot of people in a small space – but we don’t have trouble.”

Richard Fox, who was out with work colleagues yesterday afternoon, said he thought it would get ‘wild’ later on in the night.

He added: “We are looking to stay here for a few hours and go to the local pub. People are going out less these days and it keeps people’s spirits up. It’s nowhere near as bad as it 15 to 20 years ago. It’s not the majority of people [that spoil it for everyone else] it’s a minority.”

Samantha Farish, 22, said she had never been out on ‘Black Eye Friday’ before. She said: “It does have a bad reputation but I am out with friends and feel safe.”

Ian Armstrong, from Harraby said it was a “party atmosphere” early on but it would be a different story later on. He said: “It’s not like it used to be – it had a right reputation years ago.”

One woman, who would not give her name, added: “Botchergate can be like a war zone. It’s mad in Botchergate on Black Eye Friday at night.”

Sgt Liz Graham, the neighbourhood policing support sergeant for the area including the city centre, said the operation was run every year with extra officers drafted in according to gathered intelligence.

She added: “We get a lot of help from Special Constables. We get trouble but I don’t think it will be any better or worse than anywhere else. It’s generally good-natured.”

Sgt Graham, who has 23 years’ experience, said there was good cooperation between police and city centre door supervisors. “We are working together to ensure that everybody has a good time. This is Festive Friday – that’s the message we’d like to portray.”

Richard Rhodes, Cumbria’s newly elected police and crime commissioner, was visiting Carlisle city centre to find out more how officers were planning to police the situation.

He said: “I am here just to increase my knowledge and understanding of what happens on the last working day before Christmas and to find out what situations the police have to deal with.”

Mr Rhodes added that he was also interested in what the public thought about the situation and that he was impressed with the operation. Police mounted extra patrols around the Botchergate area – including takeaways, taxi ranks and nightspots.

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