"Captain killjoy of the fun police" defends use of breathalysers in pubs

By Ellie Bothwell contact

- Last updated on GMT

Ed Brown: 'It’s not an enforcement tactic at all. It’s a tool to assist venues'
Ed Brown: 'It’s not an enforcement tactic at all. It’s a tool to assist venues'

Related tags: Alcohol intoxication, Intoxication

Pubs in Durham, Birmingham, Devon and London are the latest to use breathalyser kits to veto punters for levels of drunkenness before entry, as pilot schemes are rolled out across the country.

The Metropolitan Police tested the idea in a small number of clubs in Croydon and is now planning a more organised pilot scheme in six different London boroughs to crack down on drink-related violence.

Doorstep breathalyser tests will also be piloted at volunteered bars in Durham City, while 41 bars and clubs in Birmingham will use the scheme following a pilot last year.

Devon and Cornwall Police also tested breathalysers in 23 pubs in Torquay in December as part of its #RU2drunk initiative. Officers are looking to roll the scheme out across Torbay and other areas.

Police in Norwich were the first to launch a pilot breathalyser initiative in November 2013 and, last year, officers said the voluntary scheme would “continue indefinitely” after claiming it led to a 32% reduction in violent crime and 66% reduction in arrests for people being drunk and disorderly.

'Scaremongering'

Speaking at the National Pubwatch conference in Cheltenham last week, Norfolk police licensing inspector Ed Brown said he has been nicknamed “Captain Killjoy of the fun police” since introducing the scheme, but defended the initiative, adding that there has been “a lot of rumour, myth and scaremongering” about breathalysers in pubs.

“Not every person is breathalysed when going into a licensed premises, no breathalysers are used at the bar, and there is no set limit that determines whether you do or don’t get into venue,” he said.

“Ultimately the decision is that of the licensee. I certainly have not, in the past 18 months, ever gone to a licensee and said ‘they’ve blown too high and shouldn’t be let in’. It’s not an enforcement tactic at all. It’s a tool to assist venues.”

Preventing drunks

He added the meters were not introduced as a tool for the police to assess intoxication but are used to stop people turning up already drunk.

“It doesn’t matter how often they are used. What matters is people think if they’re going out they might be turned away, on the same basis as road breathalyser tests,” he said.

Schemes also exist in Leicestershire, Northants, Nottingham and York.

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