Shield Security has been praised for bringing a fresh approach to town centre surveillance and helping Scunthorpe maintain its proud record of being a safe and welcoming drinking spot for weekend revellers.
Shield, which already works with a number of local authorities, was selected to be part of North Lincolnshire Council’s Safer Neighbourhoods Partnership late last year, following a detailed tendering process.
Now, having spent a few months in the role – including the busy Christmas and New Year period – officers have been praised for bringing a new approach to the job, helping to improve links between other agencies and emergency services, and for supporting the town’s many bar and club door staff.
“We have had very positive feedback on the impact the officers from Shield Security have made on the streets since they took over our Nite Safe patrols,” said Safer Neighbourhoods Officer Nicola Latham.
“Importantly, they have quickly established a positive understanding with the police, attending briefings before shifts to ensure they are fully aware of any potential issues each night. They have also quickly become a reliable extra pair of eyes and ears for all bars and club operators in the town.
“Shield’s staff are also interacting with drinkers the way we wanted. They are not confrontational at all and it is clear that they are there to help people, some who may have had a little too much to drink. Help could be through calming down situations between groups of people, or assisting a lone woman to a taxi rank at the end of the night.
“We have had very positive comments. They are proving a reassuring presence for the licensees and revellers alike.”
Established 10 years ago, Nite Safe aims to create a safe and enjoyable environment in Scunthorpe town centre each weekend.
Shield staff patrol the main pedestrianized area on both Friday and Saturday evenings.
Not only do they provide support to Humberside Police between 9pm and 4am – playing an integral role in encouraging a friendly environment on the streets – but are also in direct radio contact with the council’s central CCTV control room, as well as all bar and club door staff throughout the night, ensuring they can provide speedy support, or call upon emergency services, as and when they are needed.
Officer Matt Murrell says it’s a job which requires a mix of physical presence and authority, with a sense of humour and understanding about people’s behaviour in drink.
“We have to mingle with people and look to calm any possible volatile situation influenced by drink,” he said.
“Our approach is simple, we are there to help everybody have a good time and enjoy themselves, and it has to be said, that is what the vast majority of people are out for.
“We are not the police, we are not there to lay down the law, so there is no point trying to act like we are. We are effectively the eyes and ears on the street, so if there has been an issue between two groups of people out on the town, for example, we can help bar and club operators keep them apart.
“When situations arise, on many occasions it can be calmed. The aim is to send them on their way to enjoy their nights.”
Dave Frank, managing director of Shield Security, says the firm always looks to go the extra mile when providing security services.
His team compiles a full report to the Safer Neighbourhoods Partnership after each weekend, identifying any issues which have arisen, and areas which may need extra resource or action in the following weeks.
Shield have also invested in video-badge cameras for their officers, a facility which allows them to gather filmed evidence in any situations which could escalate out of control.
“Our ethos is to ensure our staff are not hired just security officers, but become a real part of the team they join and add value,” said Mr Frank.
“Never is that more important than in a role such as Nite Safe. We have been keen to ensure our involvement has brought improvements to the initiative going forward. That is why we have introduced the badge cameras, and why we employ officers we know will communicate well with all, from drinkers to door staff and the emergency services. We are delighted to have made such a good start.”
Nite Safe has been a huge success because of a number of measures introduced over the past decade.
In order to reduce risks to drinkers, barriers are put into place on Friday and Saturday nights from 10pm onwards in order to transform Scunthorpe town centre into a pedestrian zone, eliminating the chance of any road traffic accidents.
Nite Safe officers are joined in town by the Street Pastors, a volunteer group from different churches who are on hand to offer help and assistance to anyone who needs it – from chatting to people and offering a friendly ear to occasionally handing out cups of coffee to those who have had one too many, or providing flip-flops to women who have given up on their high heels.
An active PubWatch group ensures all bars and clubs are in constant contact and aware of any individuals who have been barred for previous bad behaviour, whilst the council’s Licensing and Environmental Health teams regularly visit premises to ensure that they comply with the terms of their licence, are offering good food and drink, and are clean and hygienic.
“It’s a partnership and it is one which we can proudly say has had excellent results,” added North Lincolnshire Council’s Licensing Officer Nick Bramhill.
“Figures in recent years have shown that Scunthorpe is one of the safest places to enjoy a weekend night out in the Humber region, and that hasn’t happened by accident.