Drunk Tanks? No thanks??

Northamptonshire Chief Constable, Adrian Lee, who is the national lead on alcohol harm has suggested that we should no longer be responsible for taking drunks off the streets and providing them with a cell to sleep off the alcohol. He is suggesting that private companies could run ‘drunk tanks’ or DT’s. 

I am sure that some people agree and will be rubbing their hands together as we speak as they put business plans together for their own drunk tanks.  How would they profit from them is hard to know – will they charge for their services and send the bill through the next day?  At the moment it’s the tax payer who puts them up for the night, and although some revenue goes back in to the Government when they are given a ticket, but if taken to court it is more tax payers money.

Drunk people are, as you know if you deal with them, a really big pain in the backside.  Yes that’s when we get a mouthful of abuse or if you are lucky, as I have been, had the pleasure of being thrown up on. I remember taking a 16 year old home after he was so drunk he had soiled himself in all the ways possible, we put him in the back of a van, and when we got him home his parents didn’t even say ‘Thank you’.  I then had to go and pressure wash the van out before we could go out. It’s frustrating.  I didn’t feel that the parents were that bothered or taking much responsibility.  Even if you can’t control the drunk when he gets home initially, you can deal with him afterwards, particularly when he is hungover I would suggest.

Should we be looking for answers a bit closer to what we already know?  I know that experiments have taken place to cease the sell of strong lagers and ciders in Supermarkets which has led to less street drinking, which is a start, however, we also need to be looking at more in to the culture, education and how we can get them home safe in the first place without making it in to a profitable business which could then encourage more drinking. 

I don’t understand the culture of getting completely ‘pissed’ before a night out, I’m guessing because it’s cheaper than the pub prices?  I enjoy a drink, but not so much that I would be quite happy to sleep on a pavement with no concept of where I am. 
I think everyone needs to take responsibility.  The person who is drinking needs to take responsibility, drink by all means, but don’t get so drunk that you take up emergency services time, Police, Ambulance, Doctors and Nurses, who could be helping those who are in real need of their services.  Licensees need to stop serving people that are drunk, and  licensing teams needs to be more out there at weekends, after all that is when their main issues happen.  Okay, they come out from time to time, but I am talking every weekend.  We do shift work, so why can’t a licensing team?  You want a briefing before Public order?  Come and give it – not issue it from HQ on a power point or video.

Taxi’s could be ‘drunk friendly’ at weekends and if someone is ill in the car then a substantial amount is charged.  Taxi drivers have to accept that there is some risk that there may be some ‘splashage’ in their cars, so perhaps they could carry wipe clean covers?  They need to understand that saying ‘No they are too drunk’ and not taking them home doesn’t help sometimes, OK, they are – I appreciate that- however, leaving a person to wander the streets and potentially be put in danger is not helpful.  We need to be looking after each other.  It should be about community and safety as well as profit.  If it was your son or daughter who was refused by a taxi and then something happened how would you feel?  I would rather be angry with the bill from the taxi driver but relieved that they were still brought home safe, then I would deal with the hungover son/daughter the next day.

There are SOS buses, church halls, scout huts and similar up and down the country who are doing a terrific job in helping with those who are so intoxicated they need looking after, and a lot of them are emergency services, volunteers and street wardens/pastors etc, who without them, we would really struggle.

It’s an easy answer to say lets get Drunk tanks set up in the private sector, but really?  Is this the best answer?  I believe that we need to look at what we already have before we start on that route.

Certainly food (or should i say drink) for thought.





3 Responses to “Drunk Tanks? No thanks??”
  1. There’s just one problem with DTs – the drunk person would be under no legal requirement to stay. So the inebriated would be brought there by police/amb at which point they stagger off and the whole sorry dance starts all over again.

    If there is some form of detention (such as the Australian model of protective custody) then at the very least a Sgt would need to head it up. Additionally the people running the tank would need to not only have airway management skills (so Nurses, ODPs and Paramedics – Drs would be far too expensive) but also further trained in restraint if the law on protective custody was passed, this would make them prohibitively expensive, far more than the £200 ticket that’s been suggested as a levy.

    All in all it’s a crap idea really.

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  1. […] Northamptonshire Chief Constable, Adrian Lee, who is the national lead on alcohol harm has suggested that we should no longer be responsible for taking drunks off the streets and providing them wit…  […]

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