Was watching a re-run of "Tired and Emotional" tonight on the TV, a re-run of a look at the culture of heavy drinking in the House of Commons in the UK (and you can be sure the Dáil is no better). It was almost being held up as something to brag about by supposed pillars of society who would just as quickly condemn an individual for smoking a joint....anyway getting sidetracked here and in an attempt to spare you all from my going off into a rant, I will post the article on drinking in Scotland that appeared in The Sunday Mail:
7 May 2006
EXCLUSIVE Arrests of drunks rocket Cops haven't enough cells
By Norman Silvester
THE number of Scots arrested for being drunk in the street has hit an all-time high.
Police held 7234 drunks last year, with the eight Scots forces running out of cells to keep them in.
The rise, up four per cent in a year, puts pressure on police stations that have to hold the drunks overnight.
Yet fewer than 400 of those arrested are convicted of any offence.
Senior police say public drunkenness is putting unprecedented pressure on resources and taking cops from front-line duties.
Most arrests came at the weekends and were of people aged 18 to 35 who had been binge drinking in pubs, clubs, functions or at home.
Most were men, though a rising number of young women are spending a night in the cells.
Two 13-year-old girls were lucky to survive after being found unconscious outdoors in Aberdeen last December.
Police say they do not have the time or medical skills to deal with the growing tide of drunks.
Chief Superintendent Tom Buchan, of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, said: "Arrests are increasing because of the rising numbers of women and young people abusing alcohol.
"They come from across the social spectrum.
"The last person we want to see in a police cell is a drunk because of the amount of time and resources needed. People who get that drunk in a public place are putting their lives at risk."
Strathclyde Police had the highest number of cases last year - 4644.
Their biggest hotspot was N division, covering Coatbridge and Airdrie, where there were 638 arrests.
Northern Constabulary, based in Inverness, had the second-highest figures with 733 arrests, up nine per cent on 2004.
There were 91 arrests for drunkeness in Dumfries and Galloway, 325 in Grampian, 279 in Lothian and Borders and 563 in Tayside.
In Fife, where arrests were up 11 per cent, police arrested 470 t but just 25 cases went to court.
One person was arrested 55 times in the year.
The Scottish Executive are now bringing forward proposals for "hangover hotels", where drunks ',* can be kept for the night under medical supervision and x allowed to sober up.
Inspector Mark Stevens, of Fife Police, is looking at ways of keeping drunks out of the cells. As a former custody officer, he knows the police time drunks waste.
He said: "This a problem right across the board, with people arrested for drunkenness now coming from all walks of life, including professional people. Intoxicated individuals need to be carefully monitored and police officers are not qualified to make a clinical assessment.
"Drunks are often sick and soil the cell, which then has to be industrially cleaned.
"It is not uncommon for officers to be attacked and this is another problem.
"We have put a new procedure in place whereby ambulance technicians assess whether a person should go to custody or hospital.
"We also support the idea of places of safety where we can take people who are drunk.
"This will allow the police to get on with more important core duties."
The police would like to see more places like Albyn House in Aberdeen.
Albyn has dealt with around 17,000 drunks in the last seven years.
Hangover hotels, also known as drunk tanks and sobering-up stations, have proved successful in America, Canada, Russia and Australia.
Alcohol abuse costs the Scottish economy about £1 billion a year and an estimated 225,000 Scots - one in 20 - have a drink problem.
Jack Law, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: "The seriously intoxicated need a place to recover and be offered some longer-term help to deal with their drinking problems.
"We have a limited number of these places but we would like to see more."
The booze crisis
Down it goes: But illness and arrests go up and up
Alcohol misuse in Scotland costs the NHS around £ 1.1 billion per year.
There were 2052 alcohol-related deaths in 2004 - up 250 per cent from the 1970s.
One in 10 A&E admissions can be attributed to alcohol.
More than 90 per cent of Scots aged 16 to 74 drink alcohol.
There are more than 17,000 liquor licences in force in Scotland - one for every 230 people over the age of 18.
Two in five men and one in four women exceed the daily recommended limits.
Three under-14s were diagnosed with alcoholic liver disease in 2004.
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