Senior policeman calls for commercial ‘drunk tanks’

Privately-run “drunk tanks” should be considered to tackle soaring levels of alcohol-fuelled disorder, police chiefs have said.

Chief Constable Adrian Lee, who leads the national police policy on alcohol harm, said intoxicated individuals should be taken to cells run by a commercial company and charged for their care the next morning.

Unveiling a campaign to highlight alcohol harm, Mr Lee, the head of Northamptonshire Police, said the police should no longer have to be responsible for the increasing number of revellers who require medical treatment after drinking excessively.

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Mr Lee said: “I do not see why the police service or the health service should pick up the duty of care for someone who has chosen to go out and get so drunk that they cannot look after themselves.

“So why don’t we take them to a drunk cell owned by a commercial company and get the commercial company to look after them during the night until they are sober?

“When that is over we will issue them with a fixed penalty and the company will be able to charge them for their care, which would be at quite significant cost and that might be a significant deterrent.”

His comments came amid a Government-wide review of all contracts held by Serco and G4S, two of the country’s biggest private providers of public services.

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The audit, triggered by revelations that both firms had overcharged the Government for criminal-tagging contracts, prompted calls for the Ministry of Justice to abandon plans to privatise large chunks of the probation and prison service.

But Mr Lee is not the first to suggest introducing drunk tanks in the UK, with Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Matthew Grove recently mooting the idea in an interview with Police Professional.