Are drunk tanks the best way to solve binge-drinking and late-night revellers?
Suffolk’s crime commissioner has downplayed any suggestions that so-called drunk tanks could be rolled out in the county as police step-up patrols for New Year’s Eve. Do you think they should be introduced?
Health bosses will be looking closely at how services cope with alcohol-related incidents this new year as they decide whether to roll out drunk tanks to major towns and cities during 2018, it has been reported nationally.
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said he wanted to remind revellers that “NHS doesn’t stand for ‘National Hangover Service”’, as he described the huge strain drinking to excess puts on A&E departments and ambulance services during the festive season.
So-called drunk tanks can instead provide a safe place for those who have overindulged to be checked over and even sleep it off, rather than being taken to casualty or the police station.
They are already used in some areas including Newcastle, Bristol and Cardiff.
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An estimated 12-15% of attendances at emergency departments in the UK are due to acute alcohol intoxication and this peaks on Friday and Saturday evenings - particularly at this time of year - when as many as 70% of attendances can be alcohol-related.
Tim Passmore, Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner, said he was “sceptical” of the drunk tanks and raised funding questions.
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He said: “I’ve haven’t had any requests for them from the constabulary. Where will the funding come from? If they paid, how would you actually extract money from them? Who will put them in there? They are not being detained voluntary and some people get violent when they’re drunk. What do you do then?
“We need to make better use of existing legislation and tackle the root causes.”
Superintendent Tonya Antonis, of Suffolk Constabulary, said there will be a “highly visible presence with extra patrols” in towns on New Year’s Eve.
He said: “Too often we deal with people who have had so much to drink that they are not aware of what is happening around them which puts them in danger.
“Simple things, such as moderating your drinking and staying with your friends, can mean you’re safer. Do not drink and drive and remember you may still be over the limit the following day if you have been drinking.”