Police chiefs in Britain have proposed a way to curb alcohol abuse through direct financial incentives. “Drunk tanks,” as they’re called, would be commercially-run buildings that house intoxicated individuals overnight and then charge them for their stay, eliminating the current system that sees taxpayers footing the bill.
The new system would cause people to be more responsible in their alcohol consumption, the Association of Chief Police officers (ACPO) argued Wednesday. As alcohol-related crimes have reached alarming levels overseas (and stateside, too, to a certain extent) the need for personal responsibility has police officials pushing for any measures that could potentially reduce the rate of violent crimes spurred on by alcohol consumption.
"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," Adrian Lee, the chief constable of Northamptonshire who is also in charge of alcohol harm strategy for ACPO, told the Agence France-Presse.
The commercially owned building would release the newly-sobered detainees in the morning with a large enough fee that, Lee believes, would sufficiently discourage future behavior.
"When that is over we will issue them with a fixed penalty and the company will be able to charge them for their care,” he said, “which would be at quite significant cost and that might be a significant deterrent."
In the U.S., of all state prisoners surveyed in 2004, the latest year the data was collected, 36.8 percent of all violent crimes were committed while under the influence of alcohol, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Inmates of federal prisons committed violent crimes under the influence of alcohol 20.8 percent of the time. In Britain, alcohol-related crimes constitute a startlingly large proportion of the overall crime. According to the ACPO, in England, Wales, and Ireland, violent crimes are tied to alcohol use 50 percent of the time, along with half of all domestic abuse cases, and 25 to 33 percent of known child abuse cases.
At a recent conference between two British police forces, Devon and Cornwall, talks were made regarding the role of leaders in society to address the propensity for violent crimes to be connected to alcohol consumption. Data suggested that £366 million ($589,662,600) was spent on dealing with alcohol-related criminal damage, anti-social behavior, violence, and other problems between March 2011 and March 2012. Implementing the drunk tanks would help reduce the overall burden on taxpayers and, according to British officials, reduce crime as well.
"There is a small percentage of society who are causing immense harm through overindulgence in alcohol," said Devon and Cornwall's Police and Crime Commissioner, Tony Hogg, in a press conference. “We've got a balance to set between the role of the pub in our society and the role of supermarkets and the role of parents, and such like.”