BRING it on! - that was the response to plans that could see “drunk tanks”
installed in Southampton in a bid to crack down on booze-fuelled yobs.
Prime Minister David Cameron has suggested police should be allowed to haul drunken people off the street and into a cell until they sober up.
It was part of a Government move to tackle a £2.7 billion NHS bill created by alcohol abuse and public drunkenness.
Now the idea, widely used in Europe and America, has been backed by council leader Royston Smith.
He told the Daily Echo: “The Government is right to deal with this problem head on, and if the US-inspired drunk tank is one initiative that works – then bring it on.
“Southampton Safe City Partnership has been working for some time to reduce the problems that can occur when people drink too much – for example the work done to reduce the problems in the night time economy – with street pastors, the ICE Bus and robust policing.
“The Home Office has recognised this work by awarding the Safe City Partnership the prestigious Tilley Award.
“However much more needs to be done to tackle this country’s boozy culture.”
The idea was also backed by an influential residents’ group based in one of the areas of Southampton most affected by drunken behaviour.
Polygon resident Lorraine Barter, spokesman for the Residents’ Action group, said the system could work – but doubted police would have the resources or cell capacity to act.
She said: “Scoop them up, shove them in the cells at the police station and I’ll go and see them in the morning.
“Something desperately needs to be done.
There is shouting, screaming, bins being kicked around, garden walls kicked down and fences damaged.
And then there is the vomit, urine and litter – it all makes the place look terrible.”
Hampshire Constabulary has yet to comment on the suggestion, which formed part of David Cameron’s vow yesterday to take on the “scandal” of alcohol abuse across the country.
His ideas also included the possibility of introducing ‘booze buses’ which pick up revellers and take them to the cells. But the vice chairman of Hampshire Police Authority Adrian Collett called the ideas “a gimmick” claiming the Government should already have handed over millions to tackle the problem.
Mr Collett, also a Liberal Democrat member of Hampshire County Council, said: “This is all a gimmick and froth to hide the fact that we have not been given the resources that we should have received.
“All these ideas revolve around having police officers to be out and about doing it. If you have not got the officers, it does not matter if you have got drunk tanks or anything else.”