Police weapon to tackle binge drinkers: flip-flops
The latest police secret weapon aimed at binge drinkers was unveiled yesterday - the humble flip-flop.
Police officers and safety officials in Torbay are handing out the plastic sandals to revellers who are spotted staggering home in unstable high heels or bare feet.
The Devon resort attracts its fair share of heavy drinkers and police have noticed that some women in high heels are inclined to topple over after a long night out or take off their shoes to rest their tired feet and walk home in bare or stockinged feet, dodging the broken glass and rubbish.
Police and other officials are offering the revellers flip-flops bearing a safety message. The move is intended to help them get home safely and to give officers an opportunity to speak to the partygoers.
Superintendent Chris Singer said: "It's not simply so that people can get home in comfort. It gives us the opportunity for us to talk to these young people and get over safety messages to them.
"We're making sure we take every opportunity to engage with people and talk to them about keeping themselves safe."
The police and the Safer Communities Torbay group already hand out packs to revellers that include a condom, a bottle of water, safety leaflets and cosmetics.
Singer conceded that the flip-flops would not win any fashion prizes. "Perhaps we'll have to see about widening their appeal," he said.
But the flip-flop campaign, part of a £30,000 range of measures, has not gone down well with everyone. Matthew Elliott, the chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "This is an idiotic waste of money. People don't pay their taxes for drunk women to get free flip-flops, they want the police to fight crime. The police aren't there to be an emergency supplier of flat shoes."
However, Danielle Bolton, 19, said: "I think it's a great idea and I would wear them 100%. My heels hurt me at the end of the night so I tend to take them off. It's a hell of a lot easier to walk with flip-flops than high heels."
Leanne Thomas, 21, added: "I go out clubbing at the harbourside most weekends and I usually walk home barefooted because my heels hurt. I think it's a great idea."
Meanwhile, the Club 2K nightspot in Penzance, Cornwall, is to breathalyse children attending its under-16s discos on Friday nights because it claims its events are being wrecked by drunk youngsters.
The Guardian, Friday November 28 2008