Police officers have been out in force in Bolton town centre as part of a campaign to tackle drink spiking.

To mark Spiking Intensification Week, officers in plain clothes and uniform carrying out licensing visits, educating proprietors on spiking and what to do in the event a spiking incident happens in the town centre.

Chris Jaffray joined the police on the operation.

Town centre police have been working to make the town centre a safe and welcoming place to be over the past months and years.

Various operations have taken place including Operation Lioness and Operation Overspill.

Most recently officers have been raising awareness of drink spiking, how to stay safe and what to do if it happens.

They visited numerous premises to check how many door staff they had, their opening hours, whether CCTV was working, how many people were presently inside and whether they were ensuring people are aware of the perils of spiking.

And as part of their work to keep people safe while they out on the town, police announced the opening of a new 'safe haven'

It  will open on Bradshawgate in April where people can make phone calls, access phone chargers and get a taxi home. There will be a trial opening this weekend.

It is designed to complement the long running , which aims to promote safety in the night time economy, encouraging people to ask for help and ensure they can travel home safely.

The operation recently was made up of plain clothes and uniformed officers.

The aim of this was that those in plain clothes can target offenders while those in uniform are visible and can be approached while in distress.

After visiting the safe haven, officers checked the licences of a number of venues.

This included, Hogarths on Churchgate, which had around 35 people in and police were told of the mechanisms in place to combat spiking.

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The Bolton News: Advice about ask for Angela

Bar staff have been given stickers to prevent spiking, which help drinks get covered so reduce the chance of anything being dropped inside them.

Door staff are also well connected on Bradshawgate so that if one person is removed or denied entry to one premise other venues can be made aware of the situation.

Steve Hoyle, the owner of Hogarths, said: "We do Ask for Angela and Get Home Safe. I speak to Ben Brookfield from licencing regularly.

"We need to get Best Bar None going again, all of my staff have received the full training on this. I have been the chair of the pub watch before but I left Bolton and came back, I am still involved in promoting safety not just at my pub but elsewhere."

PC Ben Brookfield handles licencing in the Bolton area.

He said: “The safe haven will be open every Friday and Saturday from April.

“We had a trial for it in December and it worked really well.

“In it we have spike test its and advice about the Get Home Safe and Ask for Angela Schemes.”

Dave Cottam is the chairman of pub watch in Bolton and also works as the designated premise supervisor at the Swan and Barrister.

The Bolton News: Police visiting the Swan and Barrister

He has trained staff in signs that people are attempting to bring drugs into the premise.

This includes placing them inside other fake items such as deodorants or hairbrushes which open up to reveal an empty space inside.

Another method is for people to wear a scrunchy round their wrist which contains drugs inside a hole and to ask to tie it around their hair if searched.

The Bolton News: Kit to prevent spiking

He said: “We have a sign which says that you may be searched at any time.

“You can refuse but you will be asked to leave and we will tell other door staff.

“We also have floor walkers who look out for anybody who in their view is not right.

Police are also being assisted in their work to keep the town centre safe by an extensive CCTV network which links to a room where people can flag up incidents.

Inside this room operators can move cameras in different directions and zoom in on any problematic incidents.

Warning signs that a drink may have been spiked include a drink’s appearance changing, people being confused or starting to hallucinate, feeling nauseous of start vomiting, having breathing difficulties or experiencing an unusually long hangover.

Other schemes running in the town  include Ask for Angela which allows people the chance to come to a bar, ask for Angela, prompting a bar staff to get them out of their situation.

And also Get Home Safe.

This encourages the use of pre-booked taxis whose drivers have a badge and a clearly displayed licence plate on the front and rear.