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Police should do A&E 'spot checks' and fine binge drinkers 'hogging' services

Police should arrive unannounced at accident and emergency departments to fine individuals who misuse medical services due to alcohol intake, a campaigner has said.

The number of on-the-spot fines handed out to those under the influence in London has decreased since 2005, but Conservative London Assembly member Tony Arbour has called for them to be used as a stealth weapon.

“We need to urgently crack down on bingers who repeatedly hog our A&Es”

Tony Arbour

He also wants the current penalty of £90 to be doubled to £180.

The assembly member for London South West said: “We need to urgently crack down on bingers who repeatedly hog our A&Es and take up police time because they can’t handle their drink.

“They are costing the capital millions of pounds and denying treatment and care to those who really need the help,” he said.

“Not only should we double fines for drunkenness to £180, but the police should randomly go into A&Es on trouble nights and slap the penalties on these people,” he added.

Tony Arbour

Tony Arbour

According to figures that Mr Arbour obtained from Scotland Yard under the Freedom of Information Act, the number of fines issued for drunk and disorderly has decreased in recent years.

In 2013, a total of 2,063 PNDs (penalty notice for disorder) were issued, down from 2,445 the previous year and 3,056 in 2005.

Alcohol-related admissions cost hospitals in London tens of millions of pounds per year.

Mr Arbour has written to the home secretary and the justice secretary outlining his plans, and has tabled a motion at the London Assembly this morning.

In his letter, he said: “Having police forces randomly attend A&Es on the worst drinking nights of the year and, with the help of the A&E staff, fine those causing the most disruption would be a vital step to reduce this stress on the NHS.”

Readers' comments (3)

  • There needs to be a distinction between those who are drunk from a night out and those with an alcoholic problem. The latter need help, not a fine. The former is through having a 'good night' out, the latter is through 'desperation'.

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  • Or try this to divert people from A&E, but keep them safe and investigate if any underlying issues:

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  • I support both opinions, I work in a specialist hospital Alcohol service and even though repeatedly offered help and community support, patients who have very deep rooted and complex issues continue to decline services, and have capacity to do so.There appears to be a real variance between patients that seek help through community services and patients who need help but decline and continue to attend A+E. This co-hort of patients are often extremley fragile with very comprimised health issues, even to the degree of having 'care packages' in place at home. The numbers of older people drinking are clearly increasing to the department, and what I find really sad is how there is very little provision for community support 'they do not fit a criteria', 'they have no motivation',' they are drinking,so no one can do anything'. I wish I had an answer, Alcohol misuse is very complex and needs 'joined up thinking and approaches'and a gentle reminder that these peolpe once knew who they were before they got lost in Alcohol.

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