Although Dorset police officers didn’t see too much that concerned them when they deployed the Operation Vigilant scheme in Bournemouth on Saturday 21 August, they did come across a few people whose behaviour was inappropriate.
The operation uses both plain clothes and uniformed officers working together to spot and intervene in instances of aggressive, predatory and intrusive sexual behaviour.
Through a variety of police powers, such as dispersal orders to make offenders leave the area, up to and including arrest, the operation aims to safeguard people who are at risk of assault or unwanted intrusion.
Officers reported that they were encouraged by not seeing too much behaviour of concern or large numbers of vulnerable people but they did identify individuals causing a risk to several women on the night.
A dispersal order was issued to one man who was approaching vulnerable women and girls on their own, and to another who was exhibiting unprovoked aggressive behaviour.
In a separate incident, staff at one venue called for police assistance and one man was arrested for inappropriate touching. Officers were assisted by venue staff on this occasion.
Neighbourhood Sergeant Mark Philpotts said: “Officers engaged with bars and nightclubs during the evening and this was a key element in raising awareness and highlighting suspicious individuals throughout the night.
“Dorset Police will be looking at continuing Operation Vigilant throughout coming weeks, enforcing the message that we will not tolerate violence against women and girls.
“Everyone has the right to enjoy themselves on a night out and officers will act when any vulnerable person is being put in fear or experiencing unwanted intrusion.”
Across the course of the evening, officers spoke with several people out on their own who were vulnerable. Officers had positive feedback from them as they were happy that the police were watching out for their welfare and reducing the risk to others in the night time environment. Two people were taken to the Safe Bus for water and to wait for taxis.
The Safe Bus is a partnership initiative between Dorset Police, South West Ambulance Services and BCP Council.
Sergeant Philpotts said: “The Safe Bus is a brilliant resource to have access to. With a collaborative approach from medical staff, police volunteers and security officers, it offers a safe place for vulnerable individuals in the night time leisure environment.”
At the beginning of the evening four licensed premises were given kits to test for drink spiking, along with posters to show the venue is aware of the issues and supports the operation.
Dorset Police’s licensing team will engage with all venues to broaden the knowledge and understanding of drink spiking and the programme will continue in the central area of Bournemouth.
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