£30 Fines In Purge On Liverpool’s Binge Drinking

Binge drinkers arrested for alcohol-related offences in Liverpool are to be fined £30 to pay for the costs of their own counselling.

It is part of a range of measures being introduced to force arrested people to face up to their drinking in four areas across the country.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith yesterday announced £330,000 of funding to Drug and Alcohol Action Teams in Manchester, Liverpool, Cheshire and Ealing to pilot Alcohol Arrest Referral Projects (AARP) until March next year.

In Liverpool, offenders will be visited by a resident alcohol specialist who will offer advice about unit strengths, the effects of alcohol on the body, and strategies for reducing the risk of offending.

They will be required to pay £30 each towards the cost of the counselling, which will be ploughed back into the scheme.

Those with more complex alcohol misuse problems, and who are given a conditional caution, can be referred to more in-depth advice sessions.

If they do not attend these advice sessions, they can be prosecuted for the original offence.

If the scheme proves successful, further funding will be available until October 2008.

Where similar schemes have operated in Gloucestershire and Dudley, police have reported significant reductions in re- offending. In the former, re-offending among offenders who had attended two advice sessions approximately halved after twelve months.

The four new pilots will help to establish a blueprint of best practice for other areas to follow.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said: We are determined to break the link between drunkenness and anti-social behaviour. “People need to face up to the damage that excessive drinking can do to themselves and those around them.” These pilots will complement powers already available to the police to tackle alcohol related disorder, including on-the-spot fines, confiscating alcohol in public places and closing down premises that flout the law. I look forward to seeing the first assessments of the projects in spring next year.”

Chief Executive of Alcohol Concern Srabani Sen said: “Providing people with active, personalised advice about their drinking promises good results in breaking the link between alcohol and violent crime. We applaud the Government for this initiative.”

The Association of Chief Police Officers lead on alcohol Deputy Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison also welcomed the scheme which: “should help to tackle the root cause of crime associated with the night-time economy.”