Belfast Telegraph

Street art with safety message

While street art can often be the bug bear of city councils, Belfast is embracing the craft this Christmas in a bid to get its festive safety message across.

Instead of scrubbing writing off the walls, the authorities will be putting up their own words in an effort to encourage young people to take care of themselves during the party season. But instead of using spray paint, the temporary slogans will be power-washed onto dirty surfaces outside busy night-spots using a stencil.

The initiative is being supported by the police and the Northern Ireland Office.

Lord Mayor of Belfast Naomi Long said: "We're now in the seventh year of this campaign and it has been really successful in encouraging people to think about their personal safety when they're out enjoying themselves.

"This isn't about being a killjoy or wanting to ruin people's enjoyment; in the last few years we have seen Belfast's night-time economy grow and this is something to celebrate.

"But the Christmas period does see an inevitable increase in the number of people who are out and about in the city, so it's vital that we encourage everyone to have a good time but to make sure they 'Get Home Safe'.

"Simple things like planning your journey home in advance, always sticking with your friends and drinking responsibly are just some of the key messages we are highlighting here today."

NIO minister Paul Goggins said: "As we move into the festive period it is timely to remind everyone of our key campaign messages. If you are going out in a group to socialise, stick together and don't separate; arrange transport home in advance; and look after each other so everyone gets home safely.

PSNI Chief Supt Brian Maguire said there will be daily high-visibility police patrols as part of the campaign

"We are confident that this, combined with partnership initiatives such as the emergency contact points, will help make people feel safer during this festive season."

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