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Police express concern over PlayStation 3 launch event

A spokesperson for Marylebone Police has told <i>GamesIndustry.biz</i> that there are "genuine concerns" over the safety of consumers planning to attend the midnight launch for PlayStation 3.

A spokesperson for Marylebone Police has told GamesIndustry.biz that there are "genuine concerns" over the safety of consumers planning to attend the midnight launch for PlayStation 3.

"We do not support these midnight launches, that is the bottom line. There are inherent problems we can't deal with easily," the spokesperson said.

"If the launches do go ahead, we have to negate the issues as far as we can, but we can't remove the risk factors for people coming to or going away from the store."

The PlayStation 3 will launch in Europe on Friday March 23, and Virgin Megastores's flagship Oxford Street branch will host a special midnight event to mark the occasion.

According to the spokesperson, police have had meetings with Sony and Virgin about how to handle the expected crowds. "In fairness, the store is meeting us half-way," he said. "There won't be any crowds on the street."

The spokesperson explained that the location of the Virgin store makes external crowd management difficult. It's set on a narrow stretch of pavement, which means it's not possible to set up crowd barriers, and is in close proximity to Tottenham Court Road tube station and busy bus stops.

Police are concerned about the safety of consumers travelling both to and from the event, particularly if they leave carrying bags which indicate they are in possession of a PlayStation 3.

"We don't want people walking around London with expensive pieces of equipment late at night. We want Oxford Street to be vibrant and successful, but we don't want victims of crime," the spokesperson said.

Sony said it is doing everything it can to ensure safety at the event, with a spokesperson telling GamesIndustry.biz, "Both Sony PlayStation and Virgin Megastores take the safety and comfort of consumers extremely seriously.

"We've liaised with both the police and Westminster Council, and put a number of measures in place to ensure that everyone attending the midnight launch gets home safely."

A source at Westminster Council confirmed that there have been meetings with Sony and the police, telling GamesIndustry.biz, "We have to make a risk assessment. There is lots of talking at the moment."

The council is particularly concerned about the high value of the console and the time of night the event is taking place. "It's an advert for muggers, basically," the source said.

According to the police spokesperson, "It would be better if these launches were held during the daytime," in order to reduce the risk factors involved for consumers.

"There's also the issue of local residents who live just off Oxford street - events like these often lead to complaints," he added.

However, there is no suggestion that the launch event won't take place - with the spokesperson stating, "It will go ahead, and I'm sure other midnight events will go ahead in future."

The police are advising anyone who attending the PS3 launch to take precautionary measures, such as travelling without cash and with a friend or parent, carrying purchases in an unmarked bag and using licensed cabs to get home. More information is available on our sister site, Eurogamer.net.

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Ellie Gibson

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Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.

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