Drunks could face £500 charge for ambulances

Related tags Crime Jack straw Labour party

by Ewan Turney Tony Blair is considering a plan to charge drunken revellers up to £500 if they need the help of the emergency services. Also under...

by Ewan Turney

Tony Blair is considering a plan to charge drunken revellers up to £500 if they need the help of the emergency services.

Also under consideration are plans to enforce the use of taxi marshals, lower the cost ofplastic bottles through increasing demand and introduce trade-subsidised late-night bus services.

The plans were formulated last week at a brainstorming session with police experts at No10.

The Home Office practitioner support group, made up of violent crime reduction experts, met with Blair, Home Secretary David Blunkett and Home Office Min-ister Hazel Blears to discuss how the Government could best beat alcohol-fuelled disorder.

A controversial plan was floated to charge drunken people for wasting emergency service resources. "People drink themselves into a stupor on the grounds that is good fun and then fall down in the street where it takes two police officers to look after them," said West Sussex violent crime reduction manager Jean Irving.

"They are then carted off to hospital where they block A&E for self-inflicted damage. Why should the taxpayer pay? We should give them a bill for £500."

The problem of late-night dispersal was a hot topic in respect of the problems that will arise when the new licensing laws come into being due to a lack of transport. Irving said: "I think late-night venues should make a contribution on a sliding scale to providing new bus services. It is hard to convince companies to put on buses but if the contributions can underwrite the initial losses, it may well be a success."

Irving said she had considerable sympathy with the trade over the issue of plastic bottles, citing the example of Creation nightclub in Brighton that would have to swallow costs of £100,000 for switching to plastic. "It is not fair to ask licensees to underwrite this cost alone," added Irving. "Maybe there could be a tax on the use of glass or the Government and the trade need to put pressure on the manufacturers to make plastic bottles the same price."

The group also urged Blair to remove the red tape surrounding the use of under-age children to carry out test purchasing and to give serious thought to issuing a set of national guidelines on drinks promotions.

Fears were also expressed that the Security Industry Authority was moving too quickly in seeking to implement deadlines for registration of all door staff.

The example of one unnamed area was given which required 600 door staff but by the time the deadline passed they had just 60 registered.

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