A little while ago I was interviewed by the BBC, if you are interested you can read the article here (it also makes mention of The Policeman's Blog, a constantly enjoyable read). But surprisingly not the exceptional Real E Fun.
If you are new to this blog, then a good place to start would be the sidebar section on the right 'The Story So Far'.
Also on the BBC website is a little piece about fears from the Royal College of Physicians concerning the changes in the current licensing laws, something that I wrote about two posts back. The government would like you to be able to buy alcohol all day, rather than have you 'binge drink' to get yourself drunk before closing time.
When the change was first proposed I thought that it would be a good idea, but bitter experience has made me change my mind…
The government seems to think that without a time limit on drinking, people won't drink as much. Sorry to say it, but the reason a lot of people go out to drink (at least the ones I meet) is to get incapably drunk, then to continue arguments (or make up new ones) so that they can beat seven shades of Hell out of each other.
Current UK youth culture doesn't seem to allow for sensible drinking – not when it is seen as socially desirable to get 'legless' and when asked how a night out went people are proud to talk up how drunk they got. Without a sea-change in the attitude towards drinking, 24 hour licensing will be a disaster.
The ambulance service got as many calls in the first seven hours of the New Year as we would normally get between midnight and four pm. Was this purely New Year 'celebrations', or because of the vastly extended drinking hours? Why were a lot of these calls for people being assaulted, when New Year is supposed to be a time for celebration?
I haven't come across the obvious comparison that if the government think that increasing access to alcohol will reduce the health/crime costs of it's behaviour, then why don't they increase access to all drugs, for example heroin? Won't that lower the health/crime costs of all other forms of drug abuse?
The other argument is that by staggering 'closing times', then there won't be as many fights over kebabs and taxis. While true that this might reduce fighting between strangers, most of the people I see assaulted know their assailant – and have probably been sharing drinks all night.
Add in the people who think that the police won't be looking for drink drivers at 11am, and you have a huge potential for injury.
Most of our regular attenders are alcoholics, and we are finding younger and younger alcoholics every year. I'm starting seven shifts of 6pm – 2am, and experience tells me that most of these calls, and night-shift calls are for drinking.
With constrained drinking times, we know when there is a likelihood of trouble and our management plans resources accordingly, which is why there are (if manning permits) more ambulances on at weekend nights. I'd imagine it is the same in the police force as well. With the introduction of 24 hour drinking all that planning goes out of the window.
So what all this above post means is this…
…I've already broken my resolution to be kind to drunks.