Cameron addresses British binge drinking

Feb. 15, 2012 at 6:34 PM
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LONDON, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday he will address the "boozing scandal" that costs the National Health Service $4 billion each year.

Cameron, a Conservative, visited a hospital Wednesday and suggested "innovative solutions" such as drunk tanks, popular in America -- prisons used to "house" drunk people overnight until they sober up, avoiding the need for them to be formally arrested and charged or taken to a hospital, The Daily Telegraph said.

Cameron also called for more police on patrol; "booze buses," vehicles staffed with paramedics who help intoxicated revelers, and a higher "minimum" price for drinks, possibly via an increased import duty.

However, Bill Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations in Alexandria, Va., told United Press International drunk tanks are not prevalent in the United States.

"Usually police get involved with someone inebriated when a crime has been committed such as driving under the influence, a traffic violation or being drunk and disorderly," Johnson told UPI. "I'm not aware of drunk tanks 'housing' those inebriated, if police come across someone incapacitated, who is not driving, they would err in the side of caution and take them to a hospital."

The number of patients admitted with acute intoxication has more than doubled to 18,500 since 2002-2003, and last year there were 200,000 hospital admissions caused primarily by drinking, a 40 percent rise in the past decade, a recent government report said.

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