Vera Baird DBE KC

Writer, Lecturer, Parliamentary Consultant and Co-Director of Astraea: Gender Justice

BLOG “We’re making a difference in Northumbria” – Investing the Late Night Levy payment

As we head towards the first anniversary of the Late Night Levy in Newcastle City Centre, it is important that local residents know how the Late Night Levy has been invested in the city, helping to provide a safe, vibrant night out for residents and visitors.

Newcastle City Council were a trailblazer in establishing the Levy and worked hard to consult and frame the scheme so that it optimised both the benefits to late night businesses and the safety of the public. The council and the police have also worked closely to deliver a practical scheme that is further enhancing the reputation of the City. I am very pleased that we have all been able to play our part. Licencees work closely with the police and council through Pub watch and individual meetings.  It has been very rewarding to see the support everyone has given to this scheme.

Around 250 premises are supporting creating a safer nighttime economy and many have become members of the City Council’s best practice scheme for licenced premises which attracts a 30% reduction to the levy contribution. After administrative costs, the council is responsible for 30% of the levy and as Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria, I have responsibility for spending the other 70%, from the outset I made clear that this money was to be spent in the area from which is was received.

The schemes that the Late Night Levy has supported includes –

Dedicated Taxi Marshals.   The marshals have ensured that those who require a taxi home, do so in an fashion that is respectful to other people.  There is now very little disruption caused by people waiting for taxis.

Contribution towards Street Pastors.     The Street Pastors undertake amazing work, helping those who may need a little extra support because they have either had too much to drink or have lost their friends.  They Pastors work closely with the police to ensure the safety of the people they are helping.

Club Scan.    This is the electronic door entry system that can scan passport, driving license or other recognised forms of identification on entry to licensed premises.                                                                               

Safehaven.    The Safehaven which is based in the Bigg Market, is a recognised service where people can go to seek medical assistance, if someone is feeling vulnerable or lost, the Safehaven team will help them.

Additional police resources.  This has included additional resources for specific events that  attract a larger footfall into the nighttime economy.  It also allows the police to work with yourself and the council to tackle specific issues that are affecting the communities you serve.

Mobile  CCTV.  Extra provision to ensure the safety of visitors and residents of the city. 

These schemes has seen crime fall in the NE1 area.  Overall crime within Newcastle centre fell by 12% in the last financial year and particular reductions in offences most prevalent within the nighttime economy include –

 Violent Crime reduced by 6%

Sexual Offences reduced by 7%

Criminal Damage reduced by a massive 27%

Anti-Social Behaviour cut by 10%

By developing the Late Night Levy with all partners, it has resulted in the city gaining a national reputation for being a progressive place with successful partnership working that shows Newcastle is a safe place for a night out and all partners are determined to keep it that way.

As Police & Crime Commissioner, I have given my assurances that the element of that levy that I am responsible for will continue to be spent in the area where it came from to ensure that Northumbria Police continue to do everything within their power to keep local residents and visitors safe on a night out.