Drinkers face fine if police fear violence

REVELLERS who drink too much over Christmas could be slapped with a fixed penalty charge by South Yorkshire Police, if it appears that they could become involved in alcohol-related violence or disorder.

Following the success of a pilot scheme in Sheffield, the use of fixed penalty notices will now be rolled out across the county, giving officers the right to issue an on-the-spot fine.

Made legal under the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006, the penalty charge of 80 does not result in a criminal record, but police officers can ask the recipient to leave the area until the following day.

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Chief Inspector Shaun Morley from South Yorkshire Police said: "We want to promote a sensible drinking culture and we feel the fixed penalty notices will create a safer environment for people to socialise in this Christmas.

"A fixed penalty notice is a way for an officer to defuse a situation by not criminalising an individual for what can be seen as silly drunken behaviour. The aims is to stop any violent incidents developing."

The recipient of a fixed penalty charge has a choice to either pay the fine or attend two sessions where they discuss the consequences of excessive drinking. If these sessions are completed, the 80 fine will be waived.

Insp Morley added: "These sessions are a valuable way for people to face the consequences of alcohol misuse. We hope that people will learn from these sessions, and subsequently be more aware of their actions whilst they are socialising."

It is up to the officer's discretion on whether a fixed penalty notice is appropriate for the offence committed and they also have the option to arrest the individual.

Officers will also be patrolling bars and pubs over the Christmas period, giving licencees advice on how to keep their establishments safe, in an attempt to crack down on both alcohol-related disorder and underage drinking.