Merry Xmas Everybody Slade
1 May 2015, 06:00
Cambridge United Football Club has become one of the first football clubs in the country to start using new breathalysers, to tackle alcohol-related crime and disorder.
The scheme, funded by Police and Crime Commissioner Sir Graham Bright, provides breathalyser kits to security staff, allowing them to test people before entry.
The breathalysers are not used as a requirement to entry but rather a tool to support security staff who often become the victims of drunk, aggressive behaviour.
It is hoped the scheme will combat alcohol misuse and subsequent anti-social or criminal incidents.
Last year, in Cambridge city, 141 people were arrested for being drunk and disorderly or drunk and incapable in a public place, while 263 people were arrested for public order offences.
Trials in other parts of the country have been found to reduce the number of disorders at venues by around a third. The devices are very accurate and can even pick up whether "soft drinks" being carried into venues actually contain alcohol.
Along with Cambridge United, the Cambridge Junction and McDonald's, in Rose Crescent, have joined the scheme while talks are ongoing with other venues.
Sergeant Ian Wood said there was a number of alcohol-related laws around sporting events, including an offence of trying to enter a sports ground while drunk.
He said: "My concern is that fans will be unaware of these offences and I hope that the introduction of the devices will help stewards make empowered decisions about who should enter the ground and educate fans about the ramifications of being drunk at sporting events.
"We accept that a responsible fan may consume a moderate amount of alcohol before a game, however, we are focusing on the overly-intoxicated people who are most likely to become problematic during or after the game.
"The breathalysers will detect anything above twice the legal drink-drive limit."
Sgt Wood said the scheme was not mandatory for venues and experience had shown that only those who have drunk excessively will be put off by seeing the devices.
"Responsible customers will always gravitate to venues which offer a more relaxing and non-confrontational atmosphere", he added.
Sir Graham said: "The trend these days is for people to 'preload' with alcohol at home before heading out. The result of this can be that people are very drunk towards the end of the evening, putting themselves and others at risk. I want people to enjoy a night out but to do so responsibly. Increasingly, the police and the health service are required to deal with the consequences of excessive drinking and I hope this scheme will help reduce the number of people who get into trouble as a result of their drinking."
Joseph Keegan, Alcohol Strategic Lead at Cambridgeshire County Council said: "The council is very concerned about people putting their health at risk by drinking to excess at home before they leave for the city centre.
"Each person who is turned away from a venue will be offered a drink scratch card which will give them information about their drinking risk levels and advice on cutting down on alcohol use. The council supports this campaign as it helps to promote messages around good health as well as reducing the risk of violent crime."