As people descend on the city centre for black eye Friday, one of the busiest nights for nightlife each year, a number of watchful eyes will be looking out for the safety of party-goers.
Officers from Northumbria Police will be ditching their uniforms and digging out their party gear to go undercover and spot potentially vulnerable people in the city.
The unique technique, known as Operation Cloak, is believed to be the first of its kind in the country.
Chief Insp Stephen Wykes, who leads the operation, said: “As with any really unique operation we have had to test it and with the figures that we are seeing I would suggest that it is an effective way to operate.”
Since its launch earlier this year, Operation Cloak has already seen a 33% decrease in the number of reported rapes.
And following the operation’s success, Chief Insp Wykes hopes that it can be extended to other areas in Northumberland, as well as utilised across the country.
Chief Insp Wykes explains that there is a number of reasons a person can become vulnerable, including excess alcohol, getting lost, or becoming separated from friends.
However, undercover officers will be looking for signs of vulnerability, as well as people who might seek to take advantage of someone who is vulnerable.
He said: “What my plain clothed officers are looking for is those moments of movement where we might think something doesn’t look quite right.
“They will step in and ask sensible and sensitive questions, like who is this person and do you know their name?
“If the answers are there and it turns out to be a legitimate consenting pair of adults then we will apologise and leave them alone.”
He adds that when officers do misinterpret a situation, people are understanding and appreciative of police efforts.
While Northumbria Police will be out to protect people throughout this busy period, the force is also encouraging anyone who finds someone in a vulnerable situation to inform an officer, member of door staff or street pastor.
And if someone is thought to be in immediate danger call 999.