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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
fashion David Beckham fronts adverts for his underwear collection
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape