Published on 15th March 2011

News story released by Gloucestershire Constabulary

Those enjoying Cheltenham town centre during race week will see horses are not just appearing at the racecourse this year.

For the first time ever during race week, mounted police officers will be carrying out patrols in the town centre on Thursday March 17 and Friday March 18.

The horses and their officers will help police the town centre at night to provide additional reassurance to the large numbers of visitors as a result of the race festival.

Cheltenham Community Safety Partnership (comprising the Cheltenham Borough Council, Glos County Council, Glos Fire & Rescue, Glos NHS, and the Glos Police) is joining up with race week sponsors Diageo GB (whose portfolio includes Smirnoff and Guinness) and Nightsafe (a partnership of Licensees from the Licensed trade) again this year, as part of a drive to promote responsible drinking.

They will be funding two police horses on Thursday and Friday night as part of their commitment to help keep people safe from harm.

This is just one of several measures being adopted by the Partnership to help the week's festivities pass off safely and remind people of the importance of safe and sensible drinking.

Hayley Pothecary, the Cheltenham representative for Diageo said: "We want to encourage responsible drinking in Cheltenham to ensure the races are a time of celebration and harmony.

"By promoting drink awareness, we can stop the good times from going bad, and maximise enjoyment for everyone to make this year's Cheltenham Festival the best one ever."

Jimmy Elias (Chair of Cheltenham Nightsafe) said,"Cheltenham always has a busy night-time economy, but Race Week is the busiest time of the year.  The members of Nightsafe work hard to ensure the safety of all their customers and it is important to continue to keep it safe, so that visitors return year after year. We are pleased to work closely with the CCSP. If we all pull together we can make sure everyone has a good night out."

Visitors to the Cheltenham Racecourse carrying mobiles are reminded to turn on their blue-tooth facility, as a text-messaging service will be in place again this year.

Over 12,000 people received crime-reduction blue-tooth messages from the Partnership last year, and officers hope even more people will get the chance to see the safety messages as they enter and leave Prestbury Park.

Another new feature this year is a free map of Cheltenham town centre that will be available from Cheltenham Spa Railway Station, pubs, local hotels and local restaurants.

The map will help visitors find useful locations such as the train station, bus-stops, private hire and taxi pick-up points, and provides a list of numbers of private hire and taxi companies from Cheltenham and the surrounding areas.

Race-themed, eye-catching extra large posters will be displayed around the town tactfully reminding visitors to look after their valuables.

Cheltenham Racecourse has fully backed the ideas and will also be displaying crime-reduction themed messages on TV screens across the racecourse (including the big screen) between races and incorporating some reminders in the race-cards.

Additional taxi marshals will be in operation at the Promenade taxi rank during the evenings throughout the week and, following the success of a pilot last year, they will again be wearing body-worn CCTV cameras to deter problems and capture any disorder at close-hand.
Bottles of water with specially-designed labels are being provided by Diageo to ensure people who have been drinking do not get dehydrated. The labels contain a safety message and will be handed free to people as they leave pubs and clubs on Friday night, which is the busiest night of the week).

Cheltenham Street Pastors are also assisting, and will have a team out on Thursday night (St Patrick's Day), an extra team out on Friday night and the usual team out on Saturday night.  They will be helping to supply bottled water to those in need.  Nigel Bennett (Chair of Cheltenham Street Pastors) said,"We are delighted to be able to help make the festival enjoyable and safe for all revelers and visitors to the Town Centre.  We hope everybody has a wonderful time."

Trevor Gladding, the Community Protection Manager for Cheltenham Borough Council said: "We are delighted that the drinks industry and Nightsafe are working closely with us again this year, helping us emphasize the importance of safe and sensible drinking.  Cheltenham Races is an extremely busy time for the town.  More than 50,000 people are expected to attend each day of the event, many of whom end up visiting the town centre.  We want to make sure all visitors have a safe and enjoyable visit whilst keeping the disruption to local residents and business to a minimum."

Superintendent Tony Godwin (who heads up policing in Cheltenham) said, "We will be deploying additional officers in Cheltenham during the evenings throughout the Festival to ensure visitors and residents can enjoy themselves in a safe environment. The Cheltenham Safer Community Partnership's approach is an excellent example of cooperation that sees us all working together to ensure that Cheltenham remains a safe place during this busy time.

This press release was issued by Katy Roberts, Media and Communications Officer, Gloucestershire Constabulary (01452) 754302.