Crime reporter Dan Bean spent Saturday evening with police in York city-centre. He reports on drunkenness, disorder and vigilant policing.


THROUGHOUT the day, officers have been at the railway station with a scanning arch for knives, confiscating some alcohol, and distributing water and chocolate bars to those who need them, and the city is busy but with few incidents reported so far.

York Press:

When I meet him at 5pm, PCSO Jonny Buchanan says that was to be expected.

He says: "Race days tend to be less high-spirited, and we're getting more drink-related violence and antisocial behaviour. We have nice people enjoying the day out but I've found it tends to be tainted with the bad ones. Especially in the city centre, they are getting so drunk. Usually large groups of males who aren't from York or North Yorkshire.

"The negative stuff can take over your night but the great positive work is when you're helping people and engaging with people. A lot of it is walking around so we're accessible to the public and they can engage with us. Trouble's always going to happen, but it's great when you can talk to people as if you're out of a uniform. We just want people to remember that we're just people and if they can look past the uniform they will see that."

5.35pm - Reports of a group of drunk males shouting EDL chants at Banyan, off Stonegate. Police find them in the nearby Slug & Lettuce, and make their presence known before taking a couple of members of the group aside for a few advisory words.

5.55pm - We are stopped by a group of young people in Museum Gardens and questioned about the laws on swearing in public. We then speak to a different group of young people, including a teenager known to officers as a regular missing person. This time, she had not been reported missing, but advice was given on how she could get home.

A garden guide at Museum Gardens, who did not wish to be named, said they were grateful officers were so accessible.

She said: "We get groups of youths here and they meet up and it's fine if they obey the rules, no littering, swearing, drinking alcohol, but we do have a bit of an issue occasionally with things like that. Sometimes we can deal with it and they will go but sometimes they don't and we use the radios.

"They're a very important asset. It makes a difference when we know we have got that back up on the end of the phone or the radio. People only look for police when they need them, but we've had a lot of cooperation from them."

6.10pm - The radio reports a window at the Pandora shop in Low Petergate has been smashed. CCTV operators track the male suspect, who is detained by a PCSO within minutes, then arrested by officers.

It later emerged the man had been spoken to earlier in the evening by officers after he was refused entry to a bar because door staff suspected he had taken drugs. As the man was not drunk or disorderly and denied taking any illegal substances, he was free to continue his night out, but was arrested within about 20 minutes of that encounter.

PCSO Buchanan said: "That just goes to show what can be prevented. If we let him carry on is he going to go on and do something worse, or get himself hurt? Drugs can make people emotional, and this big, muscular guy is trying to cuddle officers, all apologetic and crying."

6.55pm - While out in a police van with PCSO Buchanan and PC Rob Hughes, we hear reports of two people claiming to be collecting for Help For Heroes, but who don't have the appropriate identification. The couple were reported by door staff at The Three Tuns over the Storenet radio, and CCTV operators guide our van to them in High Ousegate. They provide student IDs, and officers take their information, then check the details of their car, parked across the city.

7.30pm - Report of an assault at the Biltmore in Swinegate. A member of a stag party is detained by door staff after being ejected from the bar for spitting, and is drunk and aggressive with police. He is handcuffed and arrested for being drunk and disorderly, and driven to Fulford Road police station.

PC Hughes said: "He's been given chances by the door staff, by PCSO Buchanan and by me, and he's been repeatedly aggressive and repeatedly swearing, so he's been taken into custody.

"He's disorderly and he's drunk so he's been arrested. It's simple as that sometimes, we have to nip it in the bud. Get it dealt with early on. In a way, we're doing him a favour, because if he's in that mindset then later on he could end up getting into trouble and end up doing something more serious."

York Press:

8.55pm - Two people are detained at Yates' after an assault on door staff. Their friends - about 10 aggressive and drunk young men - argue, threaten, shout and swear at door staff and police officers, who try to defuse the situation and investigate.

The group swamp the narrow path between Ouse Bridge and the entrance, becoming highly abusive, even as officers attempt to calm them down, and while customers pass by.

In the end, two police vans and an ambulance were at the scene for almost 30 minutes, before the group was dispersed with no further arrests made.

Sergeant Andy Godfrey said incidents of this scale happened "once a week, probably on a Friday or Saturday night", and take up a great deal of time and resources.

He said: "We don't arrest people for no reason, taking away someone's liberty is a big decision so we were trying to find out who had witnessed what and who was involved. There was a melee in the pub, and a member of the door staff got punched. One of the group grabbed him by the neck and was restrained, then the first member of the group kicked the door staff when he was on the floor.

"It can be pretty intimidating. You're lucky there are plenty of numbers - specials and PCSOs can come and get involved and assist us in managing the situation, because clearly some of the other lads involved could have ended up getting themselves arrested by their demeanour. The fact that we didn't arrest them was good. It got frustrating because they were hanging around shouting and swearing and blocking the path and just being a nuisance.

"Many of the incidents we deal with are as a result of people having too much to drink and not being able to handle it. A lot of incidents can be down to something as minor as someone stumbling into someone else and that's how it gets out of hand. In the wrong places people are a danger to themselves and they don't realise."

  • THE 20-year-old man arrested for being drunk and disorderly in Swinegate was given a fixed penalty notice.
  • A 24-year-old woman and a 28-year-old man, both from Filey, who were arrested on suspicion of assault after the incident at Yates' have been released on police bail pending further investigation.
  • The 23-year-old man from Redcar who smashed Pandora’s window was given a community resolution disposal and ordered to pay £410 to repair the window.
  • The man arrested at Swinegate was from East Boldon, and the two people arrested at Yates’ were from Filey. All three were kept in the cells at Fulford Road overnight.


POLICE and City of York Council are working together to try and improve safety in the night time economy, and to prevent people becoming vulnerable through drink.

The move follows the deaths of three young people in York's rivers after nights out, and has led to a report by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, as well as a River Safety Summit which considered training for door staff around the city to better identify when people have had too much to drink.

Superintendent Phil Cain said: "We will only be able to solve the problem by looking at it in the round. By working with the city council and our wider partners we can aim to make York a safer place generally, ensure the night time economy is more diverse, which should in turn reduce alcohol fuelled incidents that can lead to individuals finding themselves in vulnerable states."

The council has said for several years it wants to create a vibrant night time economy, but proposed levies on late night licenses to tackle alcohol-related crime were unpopular when suggested last year.

A council focus group earlier this year said there were not enough activities in York at night for those who did not want to go to bars or restaurants, and suggested more late-night shopping and evening entertainment.


Comment: Crime reporter Dan Bean

YOU'RE never sure what you're going to see when you take part in a ride along with police.

Sometimes, they are almost apologetic that there's nothing more exciting than hen parties asking for photos or tourists asking for directions.

Thankfully, the majority of North Yorkshire Police's work on the city's streets is about engaging with the public, providing reassurance and assistance, but of course they do have to deal with unpleasant incidents when they occur.

But when that happens, you are guaranteed to witness displays of patience and restraint in the face of very real and unpredictable circumstances.

Watching a group of very loud, very intimidating young men shout at about a dozen officers just inches from their faces, it was amazing to see how they stayed calm and defused the situation without unnecessary force, and without further arrests.

The men and women of the force deserve the respect and thanks of the city they keep safe.