Live Reporter Lauren Taylor headed out with Aberdeen police officers to patrol the city centre on the night Euro 2020 kicked off.
As Euro 2020 officially gets underway, police in Aberdeen city centre are stepping up patrols.
For many, it is not the standard Friday night at the pub to watch a game.
The streets are noticeably quieter. Once upon a time Belmont Street would have been heaving with people going from one pub to the next and groups of jolly people singing and cheering in the streets.
— Lauren Taylor (@ltaylor_DCT) June 11, 2021
For Sergeant Ricky Burr, the scene would have looked very different when he joined the force around 15 years ago, when he struggled to drive a police van down the street because it was so busy.
Despite this, fans are still able to go to their usual haunts to watch the tournament kick off with the opening tie of Turkey vs Italy and their favourite pint.
Restrictions have eased in the north-east but there are still guidelines the hospitality industry must follow, with specific ones in place for Euro 2020.
Pubs and bars are not allowed to advertise the tournament as an event and staff are expected to challenge patrons who shout, sing or cheer.
Venues are as busy as their capacity allows and PC Alex Currie and PC Louise Calder are patrolling the streets to offer licenced premises support to ensure safety.
PC Currie explains that while out on patrol they normally speak directly to the staff, and do not normally need to interact with patrons.
“It depends on the time of night, it can get quite busy,” he says. “We usually just speak to the door staff and ask general questions like how many patrons they have within the licence, have they had any disturbances, have they rejected anybody. We’ll just talk to them and see if a licenced manager is on and check when they close, especially now places can close a little bit later.”
The officer added that sometimes they can get the odd comment from someone but believes right now everyone is “on their best behaviour”.
As we head up to Revolution de Cuba a couple of ladies enjoy a cocktail in the outside area and try to get the attention of the officers, asking them for photos. The partners laugh and say people ask for pictures with them quite regularly.
Most people are aware of the rules and seem to know what to expect now. During the police check at Soul Bar a table of men start singing before the doorman walks over to remind them of the rules, which calms them down.
— Lauren Taylor (@ltaylor_DCT) June 11, 2021
Sgt Burr commented: “There was an incident earlier on in lockdown that affected the licencing trade so badly and it was highlighted so much, the venues that were affected obviously took that on board. Also the other licencees that were open took the lessons learned from that one.
“With the gradual opening up of things again they know that there is a lot of scrutiny of the hospitality trade, not only in Aberdeen but nationally, and they don’t want that level of intrusion again, which is my take on it.
“They know they can run it well, they know that people are out to enjoy themselves, and they know that they’re there to make business so the last thing they want is more heavy restrictions on them.”
Revolution is a usual hotspot for people at the weekend and although they are not showing the games they are still ensuring guidelines are being followed.
Ashleigh McColm, one of the managers of the venue, says: “I think everybody understands that in order for them to have some sort of social life they have to do track and trace, they have to abide by the rules and the two-hour timeslots.
“Everyone has been quite reasonable, the only thing I would say is that 10pm is the new 3am and everyone’s drinking patterns have changed a little bit, but it’s good to be back.”
Supporting hospitality staff
PC Calder explains that the patrols are not centred around policing the venues, but supporting them to keep everyone safe.
She says: “If they know that we’re around and we’re constantly on patrol then they can have a reassurance that if anything does go wrong we are not that far away. They have radios that link in with CCTV which means they can speak to us through our radios and we can get to them quickly.”
Preparing for Euro 2020
It is hard to know what to expect from this year’s tournament but the police in Aberdeen will continue to patrol the streets and support venues.
Sgt Burr explains that there are category levels for policing and that this weekend is classed as a higher level because of the element of the unknown.
“We’re not sure how busy it’s going to be,” he says. “It’s a Friday night are people going to go straight from work into a bar? Maybe they would have before but now they have to book tables so it’s harder for them to just spill out as if they would normally.”
Next weekend is classed as the highest level for patrolling as Scotland take on England, a game expected to bring out the largest crowds since pubs reopened.
“If next weekend we have four vans and twelve foot patrols out and they’re not needed a sergeant will then stand that down.”