Safer route home for festive revellers from city centre

REVELLERS should have a safer Christmas after a scheme to curb late-night violence was given a £10,0000 extension.

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Glasgow's pioneering transport scheme Nite Zone will be using the extra resources to increase public safety and cut booze-fuelled crime.

From today, extra dedicated night-time taxi marshals will be stationed at the five marshalled ranks across the city each weekend in the busy run up to Christmas.

Public safety will be increased further by dedicated CCTV cameras and improved street lighting.

Festive revellers are today being urged to stay safe – and use the Nite Zone service – as they make their way home from a night on the town.

Nite Zone operates at taxi ranks in Gordon Street, Sauchiehall Street, near Charing Cross, Albion Street, in Merchant City, Byres Road in the West End, and Langside Road in Shawlands, and is designed to help get people into licensed taxis and on their way home as quickly and safely as possible.

Councillor Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City Council, said: "The festive period is a great time in Glasgow and people want to get out and enjoy themselves.

"We want to see people make the most of the occasion, but also to do so safely and sensibly.

"Nite Zones make a tremendous contribution to improving personal safety across the city.

"But many people on Christmas nights out may not be familiar with the Nite Zones and so I would urge everyone to take full advantage of the service over the festive period.

"Getting a taxi from a Nite Zone is easily the quickest and most reliable way to get a cab and ensure you get home safe and sound.

"It could be the difference between a memorable evening or a night to forget."

The extra £10,000 has been given to the scheme by Glasgow Alcohol and Drug Partnership.

In total, £48,000 is invested in the Nite Zones each year.

It comes from a number of partners including GCSS, Strathclyde Police, Glasgow Alcohol and Drug Partnership and Glasgow Taxis.

Now in its sixth year, Nite Zones regularly helps around 500,000 people to get home safely every year.

Figures show that since it began, overall city centre crime dropped by more than 20% and crimes of violence down by 43%.

Taxi stewards will be working to minimise incidents of queue jumping and drink-fuelled violence.

Representatives from Glasgow Taxis Ltd will also be monitoring the number and frequency of taxis to ensure they meets public demand.

All staff working at the ranks are issued with radios to allow them to report any incidents to police as soon as they occur.

Martin Garrity, who has been a taxi driver for 24 years, started working as a Nite Zone marshal three years ago.

The 56-year-old, from Torrance, said: "I would always recommend that anyone on a night out goes to a Nite Zone rank to get home.

"The city centre is so full at this time of year and not everyone knows the city, so going to an organised rank is the safest way to get home.

"There are always five or six marshals at each rank, and over the next few weekends there will be even more."

Local pubs, bars and night clubs also support the scheme by providing information to customers about the nearest zones.

The additional Nite Zone effort will be in place tonight, tomorrow and on December 14, 15, 21 and 22, from 10pm-5am each day.

rebecca.gray@heraldandtimes.co.uk

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