Call to use ‘drunk tanks’ to ease strain on the police

BRINGING in US-style ‘drunk tanks’ could relieve the strain on the emergency services and allow officers to deal with other crimes, one of the region’s police and crime commissioners has claimed.

Matthew Grove.

Humberside commissioner Matthew Grove says cells housing inebriated people overnight, an idea also suggested by David Cameron last year, would protect the “finite resources” of public services.

In an interview with trade journal Police Professional, Mr Grove said the scheme could be one way of tackling alcohol-related crime without draining officers’ time and affecting the space available in police custody.

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He said: “One day we’re probably going to have someone dying of a heart attack on the side of the road because we’re dealing with a drunk. Public services are a finite resource and we need to appreciate that.”

Mr Grove spoke after spending a night with a 999 response unit in Hull on July 31 where officers stressed the need to take action on alcohol-related crime.

David Cameron’s call last year for inebriated people to be locked up in ‘drunk tanks’ until they sobered up was condemned by the Police Federation as a dangerous gimmick.

The Prime Minister used a visit to a hospital in Newcastle to promise moves to tackle the “scandal” of Britain’s drinking culture through a mixture of higher taxes, better education and tougher police action.

Mr Grove said he was looking to bring in conditional fines for drunken behaviour, similar to the Alcohol Diversion Scheme recently introduced by Norfolk and Suffolk police, where drunk and disorderly revellers are offered the chance to go on a drink awareness course.

But he said he would not introduce a late-night levy to pay for policing along the lines of what is currently being considered by Leeds City Council, as he believes the Business Improvement District programme in Hull would provide enough funding.

Police forces in Yorkshire are planning weeks of awareness next month on the issue of harm caused by alcohol-related violence.

In 2011 alcohol related crime cost the UK’s economy and public services £11bn.

Humberside Police says violent crime where alcohol has been a factor has increased by 21 per cent in the East Riding of Yorkshire since 2009 and that police staffing levels in the area double on Friday and Saturday nights.