Nightlife safety: What more can be done?

More than 150 professionals will descend on Liverpool this week (1st-3rd November) for a major global conference focused on building safer, stronger, more vibrant night-time economies.

The International Club Health Conference is returning to Liverpool 26 years after the very first event was held at the world-famous Cream nightclub, focused on using a public health approach to tackling nightlife issues, like violence, drugs, hate-crime and transport.

This pioneering event in 1997 brought the nightlife agenda into focus and since then events have been held bi-annually across Europe and in Australia and America and the agenda has been widened out to cover wide-ranging issues including sexual health, violence and policing the night time economy.

This year’s event is also shining a spotlight on equality, diversity and inclusion and will feature sessions focused on safe spaces for LGBTQ+ communities, black lives in music and creating a nightlife that is friendly for those with neurodiverse conditions.

The conference, which has been organised by Merseyside’s Violence Reduction Partnership (MVRP) and Liverpool John Moores University's Public Health Institute, will be opened by Merseyside’s Police Commissioner, Emily Spurrell, and Liverpool City Council’s Director of Public Health, Professor Matt Ashton.

Keynote speakers include Dr Owen Bowden-Jones, a consultant in addiction psychiatry who founded the Club Drug Clinic, the UK’s largest service for people using ‘club drugs’ and who now chairs the Government’s advisory agency on drugs, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).

Also among the 14 speakers are Bristol’s first Night Time Economy Advisor, Carly Heath, Merseyside Police’s Chief Constable Serena Kennedy and LCR Pride’s CEO and Co-Founder Andi Herring, who will talk about the You’re Safe Here scheme funded by the Police Commissioner. The event will also feature 15 parallel ‘in conversation’ sessions involving more than 80 participants on wide-ranging themes including festivals, drug testing, addiction, spiking, sexual violence, the impact of Covid and hotspot policing.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: “Liverpool is rightly famous for its brilliant nightlife and is often voted the best place for a night out in the UK, so I am delighted to welcome professionals from across the globe to our city for the 12th International Club Health Conference.

“Our region pioneered this work, hosting the very first Club Health Conference back in 1997, so it’s fantastic to see Liverpool once again at the forefront of this work.

“A lot has changed in the past 26 years and this three-day event is a fantastic opportunity to discuss how we can work together and share best practice to make all our night time economies even safer, stronger, and more vibrant.”

Prof Zara Quigg, Professor of Behavioural Epidemiology at Liverpool John Moores University, a nightlife researcher for 20 years, said: “Nightlife is an environment in which pleasure, intoxication, self-expression and group relationships co-exist. For many, nightlife is a safe environment and night-time economies provide important cultural, social and economic investment for towns and cities. However, the environment itself and some of the behaviours and social norms within, can increase risk of harm.

“Various policies, interventions and community initiatives are making great strides in preventing some of these harms however, and this conference will showcase many examples that adopt a public health approach. It also provides a unique opportunity for communities to come together to address the evolving challenges of nightlife and build advocacy for promoting sustainable and healthy nightlife spaces that are inclusive to all.”


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