Volunteers called in to curb Cheltenham's pay day drunks
VOLUNTEER police officers are going to be drafted in to stop pay day drunks making life a misery for people out and about in Cheltenham.
Special constables have been called in to run patrols aimed at stamping out antisocial behaviour in the town centre on Friday and Saturday evenings towards the end of the month.
It comes as police chiefs said the town's night-time economy was being endangered by people blowing their monthly wages on booze, and leaving a trail of chaos in their wake.
Problems associated with pay day include an increase in fighting and vandalism as well as people soiling the streets with vomit and urine.
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Residents living in the town centre welcomed the move to bolster police resources.
Liz Keevil, who lives in Imperial Square, said: "We do get a lot of rowdiness – particularly on weekends.
"It's such a shame because it's just a few people whose antics spoil it for others.
"Littering is certainly a problem and people don't respect the square as they should. It seems a good idea to have more police on the streets at peak times."
Staff at town night clubs and pubs also gave the move their backing.
Maeve Molloy, who works at The Retreat, in Suffolk Parade, said: "Pay day weekend is always a busy time for us. It can get a little rowdier than usual with people in high-spirits.
"It's got to be a good thing to have more police out on the streets."
Tom Davies, supervisor at the Spectre pub, in the High Street, added: "If it gives people a bit more reassurance and helps our staff to do their jobs then we would welcome it."
Special constables are volunteer civilians who give up their free time to support the regular force. While on duty they wear a uniform and have full police powers.
Colin Pilsworth, co-ordinator of Cheltenham Nightsafe – a support network for staff at pubs, clubs and late night restaurants – said: "Certainly there is a notable spike in business towards the end of the month and pubs are no different in that respect.
"By and large the town centre is a very safe place to be at night time but where you get people spending money and alcohol, occasionally things can spill over.
"I would welcome having more specials on the street to reassure people and address any problems if they arise."
Starting this weekend a team of 10 Special Constables will be on hand to run patrols in the town on Friday and Saturday nights.
They will be given vans to get to incidents as quickly as possible.
Section officer Richard Godfrey said: "The last weekend of the month coincides with pay day for a lot of people and it can often be when we see an upturn in anti-social behaviour linked to the night time economy.
"We will be using a combination of proactive patrolling, deterring people from committing offences, and being ready to attend any incidents which put people's safety at risk or ruins the quality of life for the community."
There are 183 specials in Gloucestershire.
To find out more about becoming one, visit www.gloucestershire.police.uk