December 13 2013 Latest news:
Donna-Louise Bishop, Reporter
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Plans which could see privately-run “drunk tanks” tackling alcohol abusers are to be “watched closely” by Norfolk and Suffolk Constabulary.
It comes following an announcement by chief constable Adrian Lee, the national policing lead on alcohol harm, who said intoxicated individuals should be taken to a cell run by a commercial company and charged for their care the morning after.
Mr Lee, who this week launched a campaign aimed at highlighting alcohol harm, said the police should no longer have to be responsible for the increasing number of revellers who require medical treatment due to excess drinking.
In Norfolk, chief inspector Gavin Tempest, operations manager for community safety, said the concept would be looked at closely.
“In terms of this specific national announcement, we will watch with interest at how that develops on a national level and see how that best appears in Norfolk and Suffolk,” he said.
“There already are some established and effective support services that are set-up in and around Norfolk.
“We’ve got SOS provisions, including the SOS bus in Norwich, that provides a safe-haven and initial medical care.”
Under the idea, the so-called drunk tanks would be aimed at people who got drunk and were a danger to themselves. They would be put in cells to sober up and then pay for their care.
But those who had committed a crime would be taken to a police cell, while those who were ill would be taken to hospital.
Mr Tempest believed that providing more provisions, such as the SOS bus, would be a better alternative. He said: “What we definitely will do is make more effort working with support services to try and resolve the problem early rather than wait until it’s out of control.
“The drunk-tank is not about people who have committed offences but people who have become incapable.”
As part of the Association of Chief Police Officers’s Alcohol Harm Week, a live web-chat has also been organised for people in Norfolk to quiz senior officers on how police deal with drunkenness and alcohol-related incidents.
Mr Tempest added: “Policing of the night-time economy is a topical subject and we’re keen to hear people’s views on the ‘night out’ experience in our towns and cities while also discussing the work we do to address problems.
“We hope the live web chat will give people who might not normally attend one of our public meetings the chance to engage with us directly.”
The hour-and-a-half discussion will be hosted on Norfolk Constabulary’s website between 3.30pm and 5pm today (Thursday).
• To take part visit the Norfolk Constabulary website at www.norfolk.police.uk and follow the links or submit questions via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.