Drunk cells would deter people says chief constable

The chief constable of Northamptonshire Adrian Lee
The chief constable of Northamptonshire Adrian Lee
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The chief constable of Northamptonshire has said people who are drunk should put in a drunk cell overnight.

Adrian Lee, the national policing lead on alcohol harm, said privately-run drunk cells should be considered to tackle soaring levels of alcohol-fuelled disorder and drunk people should be charged for their care the morning after.

Chief constable Lee was launching a national campaign aimed at highlighting alcohol harm and its effect on police resources. He said: “I do not see why the police service or the health service should pick up the duty of care for someone who has chosen to go out and get so drunk that they cannot look after themselves.

“So why don’t we take them to a drunk cell owned by a commercial company and get the commercial company to look after them during the night until they are sober?

“When that is over we will issue them with a fixed penalty and the company will be able to charge them for their care, which would be at quite significant cost and that might be a significant deterrent.”

Chief constable Lee said the cost of alcohol-related problems for the country was £21bn, with alcohol-related crime costing £11bn. He added that 50 per cent of violent crime is related to alcohol and nearly half of domestic abuse cases, and said he wanted to open a public debate on whether dealing with alcohol-related incidents was a good use of police resources.

He said the problem of “pre-loading” when people drink cheap alcohol before going out needed to be tackled and criticised the government for failing to introduce a minimum price for a unit of alcohol. However, he stressed he was not a killjoy and wanted people to be able to go out for drinks with friends but asked them to behave responsibly, and added: “The harm that alcohol can do in our communities and the impact it has on policing is sometimes unrecognised or ignored. It shouldn’t be.

“Alcohol harm is a social issue that we all have a stake in solving. There is more to do working with government and the alcohol industry but above all, personal responsibility is key.

“Don’t be a drain on police time because you’ve had too much to drink. Take responsibility for yourself.

“The police service is realistic that it has to make budget reductions but the impact of excessive drinking is an example of the real operational challenges we face.

“We need to put officers on the streets to keep people safe and prevent crimes from occurring as well as responding when they do. But the result of that decision is that these are police officers who are not doing all the other things that the government and public want them to prioritise.”

The week-long Alcohol Harm initiative will see forces out on the streets with mobile custody suites and medical triage facilities to deal with the drunk and disorderly. Neighbourhood policing teams, special constables, police cadets and volunteers such as street pastors will be deployed in drinking hotspots.

Andy Sawford, MP for Corby & East Northamptonshire, is meeting representatives from the police, Corby Pubwatch, local businesses, licensees and the Community Safety Partnership on Thursday (August 19) to discuss the future of the town’s night-time economy. Mr Sawford said: “The night-time economy is becoming increasingly important to Corby – both in terms of creating employment and being able to enjoy a night out in the town. Its growth, however, is likely to bring with it some issues and this is what the meeting is all about. I know that Pubwatch and many licensees are taking a responsible and positive approach to managing these things at the moment. I am pleased to have been able to bring the interested parties together with the police to share views on what else needs to be done to ensure people can enjoy themselves safely.”