As the festive party season approaches, Transport for London (TfL) is reminding people to stay safe as they enjoy themselves and celebrate the festive period. To help people do so TfL has partnered with Westminster City Council and the LGBT Foundation on their Soho Angels initiative, where volunteers around Leicester Square and Tottenham Court Road underground stations are helping customers end the night right and get home safely.
Easily recognisable in their pink reflective vests, the Soho Angels volunteers provide support to customers travelling late at night, including medical attention, help when losing friends or items, directions and advice on getting home safely. They can also provide a safe place for customers to rest if they need before they travel home. This supports TfL’s work to keep customers safe and reduce the number of accidents in stations.
TfL and the police are also running Operation Safer Travel at Night, reminding people of the dangers of unbooked minicabs and providing advice on how to safely get a taxi (black cab) or booked minicab home.
Working alongside the Metropolitan Police Service and City of London Police, TfL’s enforcement team will be stepping up their activity to crack down on unbooked minicabs and other illegal activity by targeting priority locations across the capital.
Thousands of taxi and minicab journeys are taken every day, the vast majority without incident. If passengers experience any behaviour that makes them feel uncomfortable from a taxi or private hire driver, they can report it by dialling 999 if it is an emergency or calling 101. All reports are taken seriously and will be investigated.
Sara Sutton, Westminster City Council’s executive director, City Management and Communities said: “As we approach their first anniversary, the Soho Angels have become a feature of West End nightlife, helping thousands of people end the night right and get home safely. We’re pleased to be working with TfL to expand the Soho Angels service to help Christmas partygoers using central London Tube stations.”
Siwan Hayward, Director of Compliance and Policing at TfL, said: “The festive period is a time to celebrate and enjoy all that London has to offer. But safety is absolutely crucial, and we encourage everyone to travel safely and look out for each other.”
London Ambulance Service announcements are playing in Tube stations, reminding customers to take extra care when travelling, especially after drinking alcohol. Last year in London, the London Ambulance Service attended more than 63,000 alcohol related incidents across the capital and TfL has partnered with them for the second year running to help reduce this number.
Chief Superintendent Colin Wingrove, who leads the Met’s Roads and Transport Command (RTPC), said: “Officers from the Met’s Roads and Transport Command (RTPC) will be engaging with the public, taxi and private hire drivers in the build up to, and throughout, the festivities and will be providing advice about planning safe journeys.
“Both black cab and minicab drivers must have their ID showing their photograph and license details visible. Look for the official license plates and numbers on vehicles and ask to see the driver's badge if it is not visible. Remember if in doubt don't get in."
Inspector Paul Doyle from the City of London Roads Policing Unit said: “During the busy festive period it’s important to plan ahead and know how you can get home safely. If you’ve had a drink, it’s not safe to drive or cycle. If you find yourself needing to get a taxi home, always get a black cab or pre-book a private hire car through a licensed minicab operator that you trust.
“Throughout December, the City of London Police will be running operations to crack down on drink- and drug-driving to make the roads safer for all users. The force is also providing an SOS Bus outside Liverpool Street Station on Thursday nights which can provide medical assistance and help people who need directions, their phone charging to get home, or who have become lost or separated from their friends.”
London Ambulance Service Chief Operating Officer, Khadir Meer, said: “We have a simple message for Londoners: have a great time, but take care and look out for one another. Every ambulance responding to someone who has drunk too much is an ambulance that becomes unavailable for someone else who may be seriously injured.”
The Soho Angels work in partnership with St John Ambulance volunteers to provide medical help at a Night Hub in Dean Street. Alongside keeping people safe, they’re helping prevent unnecessary trips to A&E and reduce crime. For more information at the Soho Angels including how to become a volunteer visit: www.westminster.gov.uk/endthenightright