POLICE are warning Bank Holiday revellers to be on their best behaviour – or spend Easter in a cell.
The four-day weekend is known for being a busy time for pubs and nightclubs as people take advantage of the short holiday from work to enjoy a few drinks.
Hartlepool Police are urging people not to go overboard at the bar and are warning that any disorder or violence will not be tolerated.
Officers have launched a number of initiatives in recent months to make the town centre safer, and police chiefs are keen for that hard work not to be undone in a weekend of binge drinking.
Superintendent Glenn Gudgeon, District Commander for Hartlepool, said: “Hartlepool’s night-time economy has had a lot of investment to make it a safe environment for people to enjoy themselves.
“We now have taxi marshals, street pastors, the pub watch radio system and good quality door staff at the majority of well-run premises.
“We continue to work closely with all licensees and neither of us will tolerate anyone who presents themselves to cause trouble for others.”
Tim Gilbert, general manager of Wynyard Leisure, which runs Loons, Skyy Lounge, Shades, Red Room and Bar Paris in the town centre, is backing the police’s stance and said his company is “committed” to reducing alcohol-related crime.
He added: “We have seen a significant reduction in crime and disorder over the past 12 months thanks to the close working relationship we have with the police.
“We will be supporting the police’s quest this weekend of a trouble-free town centre and look forward to serving the majority who come to Hartlepool to enjoy themselves in a responsible manner.”
Alcohol abuse in Hartlepool costs up to £51.6m annually, while the North-East as a whole is shelling out up to £1.29bn on a yearly basis, according to Balance, the North East Alcohol Office.
Richard Thomas, at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, is reminding people about the Know Your Limits campaign.
It is recommended that men do not drink more than 3-4 units daily and women do not drink more than 2-3 units in 24 hours – a pint of lager is two units. Drinking more can increase the risk of heart and liver disease, stroke and other illnesses.
Mr Thomas said: “Obviously working in medicine, my colleagues and I see the problems that irresponsible drinking causes, but it affects other parts of the health service too.
“You can still enjoy yourself, but know the safe limits and stick to them.”
Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond has recently called on the 24-hour boozing laws that have had a “devastating” effect on the town to be scrapped.
Hartlepool has the most late licenses than anywhere else in the North-East, and Mayor Drummond wants to put a stop to venues opening until 4am.