Copied from Sunday Telegraph 31 Dec 2017
Let those filling up drunk tanks pick up the tab by Daniel Hannan
Shakespeare, and most likely Falstaff – played above by Sir Antony Sher – would recognise modern-day attitudes to public drinking CREDIT: ROBBIE JACK/CORBIS
The announcement that “drunk tanks” may be rolled out across the UK has prompted amused headlines around the world. I’m afraid we have something of a global reputation when it comes to alcohol abuse. “This heavy-headed revel east and west makes us traduced and tax’d of other nations,” as the poet says. “They clepe us drunkards”.
In our own day, as in Shakespeare’s, we display an unusual attitude to inebriation. In most countries, being drunk in public is disgraceful. The notion that young Brits boast about how hammered they got the night before is met with incredulity in much of Europe.
But here’s the thing. Contrary to the impression you’d get from this week’s headlines – or, indeed, any headlines over the past decade – boozing is becoming less of a problem in the UK. Take any measure you like – binge drinking, overall consumption, alcohol-related crimes. All are in decline.
Why? Partly because, in November 2005, we ended the rule that forced pubs to stop serving at 11pm. It was controversial at the time. The tabloids prophesied societal collapse. The Daily Mail warned against “unbridled hedonism, with all the ghastly consequences that will follow.” The Sun foresaw a “swarm of drunken youngsters.” The Royal College of Physicians predicted “more excess and binge drinking, especially among young people.”
In the event, the opposite happened. Binge drinking among 16 to 24-year- olds sank from 29 to 18 per cent. Overall alcohol sales declined by 17 per cent. Alcohol-related hospital admissions fell sharply. It turned out that forcing drinkers to beat the bell, racing to get a final pint in at last orders, was not a sensible way to discourage consumption. Giving people more responsibility, on the other hand, encouraged them to behave more responsibly.
I suspect the creation of innumerable virtual universes over the past decade has also played its part. Although parents complain about how much time their children spend on screens, that is time that previous generations often spent on more directly harmful addictions. The rise of online gaming and social media has probably also played a part in the reduction of teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases – two other developments that bear little relation to popular worries.
The increased use of police facilities or dedicated buses as places where drunks can dry out should be seen for what it is. Not as a response to some new epidemic of crapulous misbehaviour, but as a sensible way of ensuring that A & E facilities are there for the genuinely ill and injured. Being drunk, after all, is not a disease, but a consequence of choices. It is quite wrong to load the cost onto the taxpayer. The people filling the drunk tanks should be presented with the bill for their stay after they sober up.
The Englishman may, as Shakespeare put it, drink with facility the Dane dead drunk, and sweat not to overthrow the Almain. The least he can do is pick up his tab.
RESIDENTS are to be given the power to force police to tackle anti-social behaviour and end the “horror stories” of communities blighted by nuisance neighbours, the Home Secretary will say today.
Theresa May will say that if five households complain about a repeated nuisance, the police and local authorities will be under a duty to investigate and devise a plan of action within a fortnight.
By Tom Whitehead Daily Telegraph 30 Jan 12
Whilst I applaud any proposal to require police and councils to take more seriously the issue of anti-social behaviour, there is a glaring loophole in these proposals. Not for the first time, a well meaning, but urban centric policy has completely ignored the rural dimension. Whilst it might be a no-brainer that a bunch of persistent yobs, will upset at least five separate households in a residential area, the same cannot be said for thousands of rural households. Drive around anywhere outside of our main towns and villages and you will see isolated homes, remote from any neighbour, let alone four others.
This new policy is very welcome, but like so many government policies in recent years, needs to be given far more thought and go through the apparently now forgotten process called ‘rural proofing’. The alternative, is numerous rural houses and hamlets of less that five houses, left to the mercies of the yobs driven out of urban areas by this new policy.
Had a meeting with some local youngsters, a resident and PCSO Paul Coupland on Friday night. The discussions were about providing seating for the kids to use when they are meeting on the open space area at Avignon Road on Wygate Park.
The kids also asked about putting up a fence around the open space to stop footballs going into the road. Although Christine and I understood what they were getting at, we didn’t think it would be possible to provide a fence that would be both effective and acceptable to the residents who live around the open space area. We did however come up with a plan to provide the kids with a teenage shelter that would give them an area to sit together and chat. Richard Knock, our hard working grounds maintenance manager, has agreed to take on the job and get it put in as soon after we have picked the right one for the job.
Although we blew them out on the fence, we were able to give the kids an update on the open space that will be coming forward as part of the next Kier development site, along with the Taylor Wimpey site that has recently been submitted as a reserved matters planning application. This area will be big enough for people to kick a football around with upsetting residents and without balls going into peoples’ gardens every 5 minutes. We also hope to be able to provide a set of goal posts and, eventually, an area of play equipment suitable for the older kids.
The ongoing farce that is Chris Huhne’s game of cat and mouse with the police over his alleged speeding offence, rather sums up the moral degradation issue our country is currently wrestling with.
Those of us who have been elected are regularly told that public service is an honour. We are also told that those of us fortunate enough to gain the public’s trust, through the electoral process, should be prepared to be held to a higher standard of behaviour in office. Chris Huhne’s personal integrity has clearly been called in to question and yet he continues to plead his innocence and desperately hang on to his position as a government minister.
Whilst such behaviour is not exactly the equivalent of rioting or looting, it could be argued that it is actually a form of high class anti-social behaviour. It could also be argued that it should receive the same zero tolerance approach now being demanded for ‘ordinary’ citizens. If it’s good enough for them, then it should be doubly so for those in public office and required to be held to a higher standard.
One could of course argue that Chris Huhne is innocent until proven guilty, but is that an acceptable approach for somebody in a high profile public office? Would not an honourable man, sensitive to the repetitional damage of such grubby goings on, consider his position? History is dotted with the names of honourable politicians who, when their personal integrity was called in to question, stepped aside until their name was cleared – I think David Laws is potentially the most recent example. In doing so, they should be seen as setting an example for other public servants to endeavour to follow.
Unfortunately, Chris Huhne appears to consider himself too important to take such an honourable course of action. Either that, or his moral compass has titled in the same way as all those rioters and looters who took to the streets 10 days ago. Whatever his reasons, it sets a pretty poor example to the rest of us ordinary folk.
Is it possible for our current crop of politicians and police officers to actually put us back on the straight and narrow given their recent track record? The hypocrisy of their position should be clear all given recent past events.
Before taking all of their self-righteous rage about the moral degredation of these rioters and looters at face value, let’s not forget that many of our law makers, the MPs, have been guilty of the organised looting of the public purse, otherwise known as the expenses scandal. Anyone who thinks sending a few of them to prison solved the problem, is completely missing the fact that their wholesale acceptance of such a lax and corruptible system , brings in to question the integrity of all MPs and therefore their right to govern us. Their version of looting was arguably more civilised, but it was equally damaging to the moral fabric of this country. We should ensure that the survivors, which doesn’t mean they were without guilt, are reminded of this fact on a very regular basis.
Ironic that the Met Police should be the ones, initially, confronted by mass rioting and so clearly demonstrating their bravery and comittiment to public safety. This is the same force that gave News Of The World ( and no doubt other) reporters, access to confidential information. Had it been just the time honoured practice of journalists picking their brains of their police contacts, it might of been seen as no more than a bit dodgy and something to be stopped via a stern memo. However, what happened was far more insidious and clearly highly corrupt. Not only did singificant sums of money change hands, police databases were routinely accessed and the information passed on, apparently without any concern for the safety of those being targeted.
In the nineties the police were accused of institutionalised racism following the murder of black teenager and a flawed police investigation. This led to the our police forces beinf overwhealmed by a tsunami of political correctness that swept common sense policing off of our streets and replaced it with a avalanche of rules written by senior officers more interested in their next promotion than effective policing. The question is, has this poor leadership also made the police open to a form of institutionalised corruption? Does becoming a service instead being a force, mean that our police feel under-valued and somewhat irrelevant and therefore left feeling that, just like the MPs, a bit of routine rule bending is of no consequence?
Read this piece from today’s Sunday Telegraph – Night the thin blue line snapped. By David Barrett and Patrick Hennessy to read an excellent analysis of why zero tolerance policing will fail without many other changes being made.
Sadly, there is a complete generation of fast tracked (2 years on the beat and then no more getting their hands dirty) whizz-kid coppers at the top of our police forces – I refuse to call the police a service, that’s what the refuse collectors do when they pick up my rubbish, they give me a service. As an aside, why did the senior cops of the time roll-over so easily? Why didn’t they tell the politicians to get stuffed and stick their name change?
Unless you can send these senior cops back to the staff college, where they were first indoctrinated in to the PC world our police now operate in, then nothing will change. Even then, this can’t happen in isolation, because as soon as the police throw the PC rule book out of the window, the civil rights lawyers will be all over them like a virulent and nasty rash.
Police officers need to be given the political backing and most importantly, the right training, to apply the law robustly and fairly, if zero tolerance is going to work. I have serious doubts that the American super-cop will last much longer than his first scathing report, or make any difference in the long run.
Perhaps the police should take the opportunity presented by David Cameron’s invitation to Bill Bratton, to assist him in producing the evidence needed to make their case for them.
The police are telling the Prime Minister that the cuts are wrong, whilst others are saying that the police’s hands are tied by red tape and political correctness. If the politicians insist on continuing to ignore their own police officers and the public, why not allow an outsider, in the form of Bill Bratton, to come in and put the politicians straight?
I have little doubt that, after a very short time in the job, the American super-cop will be singing from the same hymn sheet as everyone but, the politicians. News reports are already highlighting the fact that much of Bill Bratton’s success in New York and LA, came from increasing significantly the numbers of cops on the ground, so this is the first issue he will be out of step with the politicans on. These increased police numbers were then used to apply a zero tolerance policy, that saw even the smallest of infringements met with the full force of the law and this is another area of potential conflict.
As long as we continue to allow the straightjacket of political correctness to paralyise the thought processes of senior police officers, any attempt at a zero tolerance approach is likely to be equally paralyised. The final reality check for super-cop will be our courts slavish adherence to the Human Rights Act, that seems to allow so many criminals off the hook in someway or another. Good luck Bill, you’ll need it!