A campaign launched in 2017 in Aberdeen to help people who feel uncomfortable or unsafe on dates, in the company of others, or any other social situation, is being widened to the whole of the North East.
The ‘Ask for Angela’ code-phrase initiative launched last March in partnership with Rape Crisis Grampian and Police Scotland to notify Licensed premises staff in Aberdeen of situations where people felt uncomfortable or unsafe.
Once alerted, a member of staff may call a taxi, help the person leave discreetly or offer appropriate support.
The campaign is now being rolled out across Aberdeenshire and Moray and was officially launched at The Drouthy Laird in Inverurie on Monday, October 1.
Police Scotland Licensing Constable Kevin Fyfe explained: “The concept of this campaign originally came from England and we trialed it in Aberdeen last year.
“Following on from the success of this campaign, we wanted to extend the concept into Aberdeenshire and Moray and refresh it in the city.
“Posters will be provided to licensed premises throughout the North East for display and premises part of the project will advise staff on how to quickly and discreetly deal with any ‘Ask for Angela’ request.
“Should anyone feel uncomfortable about a situation they are in and need support or assistance to leave, I would urge them to approach a member of staff and ‘Ask for Angela’.”
PC Fyfe added: “Public safety and protecting people from harm whilst within licensed premises is not only important to Police Scotland but also to the licensed venues themselves.
“We have a strong links with the licensed trade, and working together on projects such as ‘Ask for Angela’ benefits everyone involved but especially those who may require to use it.
“The campaign will allow people out socialising to enjoy themselves, relax and feel safe on nights out.”
Staff at licenced premises in Aberdeenshire and Moray will be given six-point guidance advice from Licencing Standards officers to provide them with the correct steps to cope with various situations that may arise.
Laird and Lesley Parker of the Drouthy Laird said: “This will provide reassurance for our customers and bar staff.
“Lots of people don’t go out drinking during the year and save it for a big blow out at Christmas, but people drink so much that they forget who they are and both males and females can get more aggressive and forceful after a drink.
“Attitudes have changed too, what was once classed as ‘banter’ is now just not acceptable.”
Wayne Gault of the Aberdeenshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership commented: “The ‘Ask for Angela’ scheme is yet another example of responsible alcohol retailers recognising the risks that excessive alcohol consumption can bring, and are doing something positive to minimise those risks for the benefit of their customers, their business and their community.
“I’d recommend all establishments that serve alcohol to support ‘Ask for Angela’.”
Paul Johnson, Moray Drug and Alcohol Partnership Manager, said: “The ‘Ask for Angela’ scheme is a concrete example of responsible licensed premises recognising the risks that some people may face when socialising in pubs, clubs and bars.
“Members of the public have a right to enjoy visiting pubs, clubs, and bars, without being subjected to unwarranted and inappropriate advances or behaviour from others.
“I hope that many establishments will support the ‘Ask for Angela’ initiative.”
Sarah Wheeler, Chairperson of Unight in Aberdeen said: “’Ask for Angela’ has been promoted throughout Unight venues in Aberdeen since 2017 and has continued to be a success throughout 2018.
“This campaign lets the public know that the staff of licensed premises are there to help them if they feel at any point that they feel they are uncomfortable or unsafe whilst on a date.
“Such initiatives reinforce how safe our night-time economy in the city centre is for both residents and those visiting Aberdeen.”
Project Manager Wilma Thomson from Rape Crisis Grampian added: ‘’It’s important to remember that this is a safety scheme for everyone as anybody can end up in a situation that they are unsure of and need help whilst in a bar, club or pub.
“Rape Crisis Grampian has been so pleased with the way in which Aberdeen City has embraced and supported ‘Ask for Angela’ and can’t wait to see it develop further within Aberdeenshire and Moray.”
PC Fyfe added: “If this prevents just one incident then for me it’s a success.”