Canned water initiative aims to keep freshers safe and hydrated 

Staff offers customer a can of water as part of Operation Hydration. She is handing a man a can with a QR code, while also holding a tray of shots.

Fifteen bars and clubs in Durham City have signed up to Operation Hydrate – a safety initiative designed to keep students safe from the adverse effects of too much alcohol.

7,500 cans of water have been made available for students at risk of unsafe intoxication. The cans will be handed out to students to keep them from ill-effects of excessive drinking. 

The scheme, launched by Durham police in partnership with Durham County Council and Dynamite Pink Floor Staff Agency, aims to utilise floor sales staff – commonly known as ‘shot girls’ – to identify people who are at risk of being adversely affected by too much alcohol.

Staff have received additional safety training to identify those at risk and will offer those people free cans of water and encourage them to take a break from the alcohol and to rehydrate.

The cans also feature a QR code directing users to the Safe Durham website, which outlines helpful safety tips such as directions to the Durham City Safety Hub and Durham Street Friends.

Inspector Dave Clarke, of Durham City Neighbourhood Police Team, said: “The increased footfall during Freshers Week inevitably results in more instances of people needing support. Our aim is to provide that assistance before they get so intoxicated they become vulnerable.

“Often people have had just a little bit too much to drink but aren’t ready to end their night, so a short break to drink some water can be enough of an intervention to reduce the chances of them getting into any sort of trouble.”

A six-week pilot of the scheme received very positive feedback, including from one young girl who had been left alone while drunk and was grateful to the staff who offered water and stayed with her while waiting for a taxi.

One rowdy group were at risk of being asked to leave the premises, and would only accept a water break on the condition that it was from a can so that they knew it hadn’t been tampered with.

Elizabeth Mason, Director of Dynamite Pink, said: “The floor sales staff are often the first line of defence as they’re in amongst the crowds, develop a rapport with customers, and can spot the signs of heavy intoxication and vulnerability.”

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