Last year police chiefs across the country highlighted the drain on police resources caused by excessive drinking and called for alternatives, such as ‘drunk tanks’, to put the cost back to the drinkers.
Despite a big debate last year, there have been few changes and police still have to pull officers off their beats to deal with the drunk and disorderly in town centres at the weekend.
Over the weekend of September 19, police forces will try to highlight the problem and encourage drinkers to take responsibility for themselves on a night out.
To support the national campaign, here in Lincolnshire Local Policing Teams will be conducting increased licenced premises checks. They will be using “Track Back” information to help target these checks in the most effective way. Track Back uses identification numbers on cans and bottles to ascertain where they were bought from. This is a tool Lincolnshire Police use to help target premises who are, for example, selling to underage drinkers or street drinkers.
Also as part of the campaign, Lincolnshire Police will question those involved in incidents where alcohol consumption is a key element to establish where and when alcohol was bought and consumed. This will help build a picture of any specific problem areas they can take steps to address.
Plain clothes and uniformed officers from the Alcohol Licensing Department will be on duty over the weekend, visiting premises around the county. Part of this activity is intelligence led and is aimed at venues where they believe criminal behaviour is regularly occurring.
Officers will be working closely with Trading Standards who are engaging with Lincoln University over the “fresher’s” period to promote messages of sensible drinking.
National Policing Lead on Alcohol Harm, Chief Constable Adrian Lee, feels that progress has been limited over the last 12 months and there is a real need for more to be done.
He said: “We raised this issue last year and got real support from the public, other emergency services, health services, some parts of the alcohol industry and politicians. We have seen increased efforts in the last 12 months from the alcohol industry and licensed venues to tackle excessive drinking, but these efforts have barely scratched the surface of a problem that is blighting our communities.
“Voluntary measures such as stopping the production of ‘super strength’ products in large cans, a commitment to responsible promotion of alcohol in shops and supermarkets and a small investment in education in schools are steps in the right direction. But they are small steps. There is much more to be done.”
Mr Lee measured the impact of alcohol in his force and found that in a 24 hour snapshot 27 per cent of incidents reported to Northamptonshire Police were alcohol-related; this doesn’t include the demand on the police from weekend drinkers.
Mr Lee said: “To make real change we need strong oversight of the alcohol industry, we need to look at ways of dealing with the price and availability of alcohol and effective treatment for offenders with alcohol problems. But there is only so much progress we can make without individuals taking personal responsibility for their drinking. Social tolerance for excessive drinking is far too great and it is considered normal to be so drunk that people are not in control of themselves. This puts an enormous burden on police and health services and affects the service we offer to the public.”