Sober up in drunk tanks and pay up to £400 to leave? Police chiefs call for privately-run cells to curb alcohol-fuelled disorder

Chief Constable Adrian Lee says intoxicated people should be taken to a cell and charged for care in the morning

The introduction of privately-run 'drunk tanks' should be considered to reduce soaring levels of alcohol-fuelled disorder, police chiefs have suggested.

Launching a campaign aimed at highlighting alcohol harm, Chief Constable Adrian Lee, the head of Northamptonshire Police, said the police service should not have to be responsible for the increasing number of revellers who require medical treatment after drinking to excess.

Instead Mr Lee, the national policing lead on alcohol harm, said intoxicated individuals should be escorted to a cell managed by a commercial company and charged for care they receive the morning after.

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.”

Keeping someone in police a cell overnight can cost at least £385, more than a night at the Ritz hotel would cost. Under current law police can issue £80 fines for being drunk and disorderly.

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

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 voicing the idea in an interview with trade journal Police Professional.

And it follows proposals for increased privatisation of the police service by way of sponsorship as suggested earlier this year by Dorset PCC Martyn Underhill.

Mr Lee argued that police are not health experts, and said it can be difficult for officers to work out where the best place to put a drunk is. "Is it a police station", he asked, "or do they need to be at a hospital?"

“Accident and emergency departments are under huge pressure nationally, particularly on a Friday and Saturday nights", he continued.

“Why should we have drunks clogging up the A&E, causing further problems potentially? Why not put them somewhere safe where you could have private medical staff on hand?”

Speaking during the briefing, Sir Hugh Orde, President of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said intoxicated individuals are “very high risk” and need to be checked every 15 to 30 minutes.

He said: “It is a huge cost on staff and when one of these people tragically dies, the service is quite rightly criticised.”

Mr Lee also said he was disappointed no licensing authorities had imposed late-night levies - an additional charge for late-opening alcohol suppliers designed to contribute towards policing the night-time economy.

He criticised the Government for failing to implement the minimum price for a unit of alcohol in England and Wales, after the Coalition shelved the plans in July amid fears the change would unfairly hit responsible drinkers.

A week-long campaign has been launched by police forces highlighting the difficulties faced by those dealing with drunkenness and alcohol-related incidents.

The Alcohol Harm initiative will see forces out on the streets with mobile custody suites and medical triage facilities to deal with the drunk and disorderly, alongside neighbourhood policing teams, special constables, police cadets and volunteers such as street pastors.

There will be age ID checks, drug swabbing and drink-drive operations, while licensing teams will be working with partners conducting test purchasing operations for shops and bars and visiting problem venues.

Police will address new students at freshers' weeks on staying safe and providing awareness training on vulnerability with security and bar staff.

Nearly 50 per cent of all violent crime is alcohol related, Acpo said, while offenders are thought to be under the influence of alcohol in nearly half of all incidents of domestic abuse and alcohol plays a part in 25 to 33 per cent of known child abuse cases.

Crime prevention minister Jeremy Browne said he welcomed the campaign to raise awareness of the impact of alcohol-fuelled crime.

Mr Browne said: “Frontline police officers are all too aware of the drunken behaviour and alcohol-fuelled disorder that can effectively turn towns and cities into no-go areas for law-abiding people, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there