Developing a national ‘Safe Space’ framework could save public money and reduce alcohol harm

03/07/2018

A UK network of Safe Spaces could return over £100m to the NHS annually and help to improve the fabric of the night time economy across the country according to the Local Alcohol Partnerships Group (LAPG.)

Safe Spaces are an increasingly recognised term for partnership schemes that are often based in buses or town centre buildings which operate to make the night-time economy safer. They typically provide a combination of medical assessment, recovery and discharge and some also provide a physical base for partners managing their local night time economy.

According to research commissioned from MAKE Associates by LAPG and the alcohol responsibility body the Portman Group, there is potential for a further 150 Safe Spaces to be set up in addition to the 40 that already exist. The findings showed that investment in them can help offset public sector costs by as much as £9.31 for every £1 spent. LAPG, the Portman Group and Make Associates have also produced a ‘toolkit’ to help areas set up new spaces.

The research concludes that a strategic approach is needed to support a national roll out of Safe Spaces and makes several findings, including:

  • Engaging with devolved governments, the Home Office and Department of Health in England as well as the NHS in each county and other local government and health stakeholders.  
  • Independent annual evaluation of Safe Spaces to demonstrate their ongoing value.
  • Secondment of an existing organisation to take a lead on Safe Spaces nationally and to develop a body that champions the benefits of them and supports locations in building schemes.

Examples of active Safe Spaces include the Chelmsford SOS bus, Clapham Night Hub and Emilia’s Place in Hereford.

Portman Group Local Partnerships Director, Rita King, commented: “Safe Spaces can play a key part in helping to reduce the pressure on the NHS. Ultimately tackling alcohol harms and reducing vulnerability must be a collective effort, involving relevant stakeholders from ambulance trusts to police chiefs and local government.”