London’s police and transport chiefs have issued advice to those intending to join New Year’s Eve celebrations along the Thames or in London’s pubs and bars.
The Met, which says over 3,000 Met officers will be on duty, is warning Londoners and visitors to be on their guard for pickpockets and thieves and is cautioning party-goers that some criminals may see likely crowds as the ideal cover to commit crimes.
Transport for London is reminding passengers to check before they travel. Detailed travel advice for the festive period can be found on TFL’s website or by downloading their recently published travel guide.
As in past years there will be sponsored free travel on the Tube, DLR, buses and trams on New Year’s Eve However there is no free travel on the trains. This year’s free service is sponsored by ING Direct.
Those planning to watch the official London fireworks display on the River Thames are advised to check the Greater London Authority website for advice.
Police are warning would-be spectators not to “leave it to the last minute to watch the fireworks as you are likely to be disappointed” and are urging anyone approached to buy a ticket to the free event to advise a police officer.
Other advice to revellers from the police and TfL:
The fireworks viewing area is very popular and gets full early on in the evening. Once areas are full event organisers will close them to the public. This has been as early as 9:00pm in previous years. To guarantee a good view, watch the coverage on BBC One.
Wrap up warmly, wear waterproofs or take an umbrella. Be prepared for long waits in the cold. It is not advisable to bring young children and buggies to central London to see the fireworks – take them to see the New Year’s Day Parade instead.
Most bars and clubs are ticket only or you need to book in advance.
Travel around town by public transport, if you drive into town during the day you won’t be able to drive home once road closures have been put into place.
Before you start drinking plan your route home. If you’re travelling by tube or train, check the time of your last train.
There is a huge demand for public transport at certain points in the evening – post midnight you may have to wait some time before getting on the tube or train so be prepared to queue and wrap up warmly.
If you live in London you may want to walk a bit further to get to a tube station, Charing Cross and Waterloo are likely to be extremely busy. Follow the signs to other tube stations, which will be in place on the night.
Criminals use the cover of crowds to commit crime – keep a close eye on all your belongings;
Arrange meeting points for friends and family don’t rely on mobile phones.
Superintendent Brian Pearce, Met spokesperson, said: “We’ll be out on the streets helping to keep people safe and to ensure that New Year’s Eve is a great celebration.
“To help us do this we’re suggesting a few simple tips to make sure that if you’re coming into the capital everything goes as planned.
“If you are planning on going into London, the weather is expected to be cold so wrap up warmly and check the forecast before you leave. The centre of town gets extremely busy because of the popularity of the fireworks displays so do make sure wherever you’re spending New Year that you’ve thought carefully about your night out and how you will get home.
“There are, unfortunately, criminals who see occasions where large crowds are gathered as a prime opportunity to snatch bags and wallets. Keep a close eye on all your belongings so that you don’t become a victim of crime.
“We’re supporting the event organisers in asking people not to leave at the last minute to watch the fireworks. The viewing area gets full early and each area will be closed off by the organisers as it reaches its limit to prevent overcrowding. Each year many people end up disappointed as they can’t get near enough to the view, so do remember you can always watch the fireworks on TV.
“Large numbers of people also flock to areas like Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square, which can mean lots of people trying to get to the same tube and rail stations at the same time to get home. If you can, consider walking to a tube station a bit further away as stations like Waterloo and Charing Cross are likely to experience long waits.
“Road closures to facilitate the event and celebrations are put in place from 1800. Public transport is the best way to get around town. It is best not to drive into town as you will not be able to get your car out once the road closures have been put in place.”
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: “London will herald the start of 2010 with a bang – with a spectacular fireworks display at the London Eye.
Countless celebrations will take place all across the city, with many thousands of Londoners and visitors making the most of our unrivalled selection of bars, restaurants and hotels. Unless you’re going by bike, public transport will without doubt be the best way to travel. There will be services across London throughout the night and, because we want everyone to be able to get home safely, we are making travel free.”