The head of an A&E doctors' group wants police to take a “zero tolerance” approach to antisocial behaviour after drinking, to stop drunks clogging up emergency wards.
Cliff Mann, the president of the College of Emergency Medicine, is urging the authorities to be tougher on drunk and disorderly people, to make them realise there are consequences to their actions.
“If more people knew that if they got drunk they were going to be arrested, they wouldn’t drink in the first place and then end up in A&E," Dr Mann told the Observer.
"If more people knew that they were facing the prospect of a prosecution and having to pay a fine, that would be an effective sanction or deterrent to drinking too much,” he added.
Campaigns should be mounted across the country by police forces to reduce the number of people requiring medical attention and to ensure staff and resources are not diverted from "more deserving" patients, according to the senior doctor.
Dr Mann said that Britain was suffering a binge drinking epidemic and “gratuitous consumption” of alcohol was a serious problem.
In recent years there has been a push to educate drinkers on the danger of alcohol and the Government has backed a number of campaigns. Police now have the power to fine those they deem drunk and disorderly £90.
Dr Mann is dismissive of these efforts however and claims that few individuals incapacitated by alcohol are arrested and only tougher measures, such as the introduction of minimum alcohol pricing by unit, will have any effect.
Police leaders have challenged Dr Mann’s comments and it has been noted that many police forces across the country already have operations in place to deal with alcohol-related crime.
South Yorkshire is one such force and its alcohol lead, Superintendent Shaun Morley, said of its separate campaign: “We are all for people enjoying themselves over Christmas. However, there are some people that take these celebrations to an extreme, putting extra pressure on public services.
“In this campaign we will be working with partners to help combat drink related crime, drink driving and antisocial behaviour.”
In England and Wales, alcohol accounts for more than 40 per cent of all violent crimes committed, this figure has remained largely stable since 2007.
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