Despite living in Romford, it is some time since I enjoyed a night out in the town. Cramming into crowded venues and knocking back gallons of cheap booze is not my idea of a good time. With standing room only it's a bit like spending the evening down a very noisy hole when you are my height and I discovered several years ago that it now takes me two days to recover from a hangover - time I don't have to waste. However one worry that I no longer have is the likelihood of becoming a victim of crime.
Violence is still a possibility of course, but a noticeable police presence, CCTV saturation and cooperation between venue operators and door staff has meant the town centre is now much safer at night.
Today Boris met borough police commander Mick Smith and council leader Michael White to see three new initiatives which will cut crime and anti social behaviour in the evenings.
The Yellow Ticket scheme allows officers to take individuals to task for their behaviour. Words of warning or advice are the first step in a process that leads to the most troublesome individuals being banned from the whole town centre.
The Barred From One, Barred From All initiative encourages venues to share details when they exclude a customer for misbehaviour. Being barred from one venue has resulted in a number of people being barred from all sixteen pubs and clubs in the town centre.
And a focus on false IDs means that under age drinkers who fake their identity will be excluded, not just at the time they are caught, but for several years as a punishment. Use of fake passports and driving licences is a crime of course and police have arrested and prosecuted some offenders.
Living in central Romford has many advantages, but it can be noisy in the evenings and alcohol causes a lot of unpleasant behaviour. A few years ago I was walking home one night - working late again - and a young, scantily clad girl jumped on me outside the station, giving me a huge kiss. I was shocked and horrified of course, particularly when she shouted "Why are you out on a Friday night? You're too old for Romford!!!!".
A case of mistaken identity I suppose, and I still won't be going out on the town. But I will feel that bit safer from molestation walking home in the evening.