'Drunk tanks' idea for revellers backed by Kent police commissioner Ann Barnes
Kent police commissioner Ann Barnes
Kent's crime commissioner has given her backing to the idea of "drunk tanks" to help police cope with alcohol-fuelled disorder.
Ann Barnes said she supported calls made today by the Association of Chief Police Officers to tackle binge drinking and avoid packing police cells with drunks incapable of looking after themselves.
Under the scheme, ACPO said drunks who were a danger to themselves would be put in cells run by a commercial organisation to sober up and then have to pay for their care.
Ms Barnes offered qualified backing, saying it was unfair for the police to deal with those who got uncontrollably drunk and made a nuisance of themselves in high streets and town centres.
She said: "For a number of people it's become a socially accepted norm to go out, get absolutely uncontrollably drunk and make a nuisance of themselves in our high streets and town centres.
"It's unfair on the police who have to deal with the aggression and its unfair on the law abiding citizens who must feel that their streets and town centres risk becoming no go areas for fear of meeting one of these individuals."
Ms Barnes added: "As a short-term tactic I would support the idea of such 'drunk tanks' if the significant legal and logistical aspects could be resolved.
"I would support the concept that people who systematically abuse alcohol in public should have to pay to meet the costs of controlling and managing their behaviour."
But she emphasised longer term "social pressure and education should be used to stop people binge drinking and behaving boorishly and aggressively".
Drunk friends on a night out
Her comments come as Kent Police, alongside local councils, prepare for a week-long crackdown on alcohol-related crime.
The force will be targeting drinking hotspots in a bid to reduce the amount of alcohol related crimes.
Officers will be joined by special constables, providing a high visibility presence in key locations around the county.
Outlining the idea of drunk tanks, Northamptonshire chief constable Adrian Lee - who leads on the issue of problem drinking - said police cells were not the best places for people who had got so drunk they were "incapable of looking after themselves".
He said: "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."
The Police Federation said the idea was not one it supported.
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