Drunk tanks – not for the NHS

I’m watching proposals for recovery rooms for drunks to save congestion in A and E units. Presumably they will be paid for by the NHS. It was left for one medic, interviewed on BBC tv, to point out that they should not be necessary in the first place. Someone known to friends once had to wait for six hours as she bled with a late miscarriage because her local A and E was trying to cope with drunks. She lost the baby.

Drunkenness renders people liable to cause accidents and require help and attention from others. It renders women particularly vulnerable to the attention of unscrupulous, opportunist males. Drunks are unable to assist others around them who need help and are more likely to become aggressive. They are useless as witnesses in court.

Much now seems to be made of going out with the intension of getting drunk, as if the experience of drunkenness is enjoyable, desirable and socially acceptable, without the slightest concern about the consequences for themselves, or others. At one time young adults were expected to know their limits and drink accordingly lest others be inconvenienced or harmed.

Drunk tanks will only help to cope with the symptoms of this unwelcome public nuisance; they will do nothing to curb drunkenness. They may by their very existence serve to reassure irresponsible drinkers that they will be cared for and do nothing to restrain them.

Like other groups, drunkards rely upon provision by the rest of the community to cope with their self-inflicted incapacity; on what grounds could they complain were they simply left to cope themselves with their drunkenness until others had time to attend to them?

So, why not establish drunk tanks as part of the court system, rather than the NHS? Then troublesome drunkards would recover in court where they could face immediate justice, be held responsible for harm and injury caused to others, or bailed before release back into the community that they had abused.

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