I have just spent the weekend supporting the regular response officers. Every weekend officers from departments all over the county work a Friday and Saturday night to help deal with the additional calls that largely come about because of excessive drinking. It is fair to say that some of my colleagues don't like this and try to avoid it. Personally, I feel we all need to do our bit and help out.
I worked shifts in a town centre for many years and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a constant battle between the licensed premises and the police. We had our irresponsible pubs who allowed underage drinkers and drunkenness and they got visited every Friday and Saturday. I made it clear to the licensees that if they were not prepared to act responsibly I would control their premises and they would be prosecuted if they didn't start acting responsibly. I saw a number of licensees off as they didn't listen to the advice.
Most licensees are managers or tenants and are under pressure to meet targets. I can see why it is tempting to sell to kids, drunks etc. I supported extended opening hours and I hoped that this might mean we adopted a more Continental approach to drinking. Outside our town centres, this has happened to a large extent. Successful pubs have turned to selling food to survive. Those that don't make this transition are closing in their droves as the recession, smoking ban and drinking (at home) habits change.
This weekend I patrolled the town centre and visited a number of our large modern pubs. I was sad to see that here the mentality still seems to be, pack as many people in as you can, sell as much drink as you can and let the police pick up the pieces. If you visit these large town centre pubs during the week you will see tables and chairs laid out, but on Fridays and Saturdays the pubs clear away all the tables and chairs and play loud music. You end up with hundreds of drinkers stood around. They cannot have a conversation because the music is too loud and so they just drink. There are nowhere near enough staff working to monitor who is drunk and shouldn't have any more.
The results of all this are that I saw people throwing up in the street, there were four fights in pubs, five fights over taxi's and dozens of drunken idiots wandering around shouting and swearing. We also found one young woman semi conscious in a car park because she was so drunk and who required to go to hospital. Young woman in this state are so vulnerable to rape and sexual abuse. There were 18 arrests on Friday and 13 on Saturday linked to drunken behaviour.
I am generally against introducing more and more legislation to control behaviour. We have seen too much of this over the last 20 years. It occurs to me though that where town centre drunkenness is problematic an area could be declared as such and all licensees required to serve alcohol only to people sat at tables. This might get us back to the situation we want to be in. People sat in pubs having conversation rather than standing around drinking and listening to deafening music. Drinks would be more expensive as less would be sold, but profit margins maintained.