Police chief "sceptical" over private "drunk tanks" for boozed-up revellers
POLICE chief Martin Surl says he is "sceptical" about bringing in privately run "drunk tanks" to cater for boozed-up louts in Cheltenham.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) says the idea should be considered to tackle alcohol-fuelled disorder and to reduce the burden of paperwork on police who have to deal with drunken idiots on a night out.
It would mean drunks who are a danger to themselves would be put in cells run by private companies – rather than being locked up by the police.
When they sober up they would have to pay a fee for their care.
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But Mr Surl, the county police and crime commissioner, said he was yet to be convinced by the idea.
He told the Echo: "I've yet to look at the proposals in detail, but I'm sceptical about using the private sector to deal with a policing and social issue."
The Association of Chief Police Officers say taxpayers should not have to pick up the bill for people's drunkenness on a night out – with the group claiming 50 per cent of violent crime is alcohol-related.
And Alan Meaden, landlord of the Suffolk Arms, in Cheltenham, said he felt the idea of "drunk tanks" had potential.
"It could be a good deterrent to people getting too drunk," he said.
"They might think twice about their behaviour if they had to pay to get out.
"There are lots of things that would need ironing out but I think it's worth looking into."
The idea of "drunk tanks" comes as Acpo launches a campaign on alcohol harm to coincide with university freshers' week across the UK. In Cheltenham, police and borough council chiefs have launched their own scheme to keep people safe as students descend on the town for the annual booze-fuelled frenzy.
Posters have been designed to help young people remain safe from alcohol-related sexual assaults, and a street-safe operation will take place throughout the week.
Clubbers said they had misgivings about installing "drunk tanks" in Cheltenham.
"I don't think people would be happy about being locked up by a private company," said Matt Groves, 33, from Prestbury.
"How drunk would you need to be to be locked up for the night and who would decide?
"I can see why the police would want drunk people off their hands.
"I'm not convinced this is the answer."