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The VICE Guide to Right Now

A New Poll of Police and Ambulance Staff Shows Why the UK Can't Be Trusted to Drink Responsibly

Around 35 percent of ambulance journeys are somehow related to alcohol.

by Joe Goodman
Oct 26 2015, 12:10pm

Photo: West Midlands Police via Wikimedia Commons

READ: The State of British Boozing in 2015

A new report by the Institute of Alcohol Studies has revealed the devastating impact of Britain's binge drinking culture on our emergency services, and now police are appealing to ministers to recall 24-hour alcohol licensing.

According to the study, over 50 percent of ambulance staff and three-quarters of police officers in the UK report having been injured while dealing with drink-related violence. Of the 5,000 emergency specialists surveyed, police reported spending over half their time dealing with drink-related crime. This follows a report from 2011 indicating that 80 percent of weekend arrests are alcohol-related.

Emergency health service specialists also expressed the strain they felt the current situation placed on them. In 2009/2010 there were 1.4 million alcohol-related ambulance journeys, accounting for 35 percent of the total. Seventy-six percent of ambulance staff and 54 percent of A&E doctors agreed drunk people should be charged for wasting emergency services' time. However, 28 percent of emergency doctors thought charging patients was a bad idea, describing it as "the first step in a slippery slope towards the end of the NHS."

Alcohol licensing in the UK was extended to up to 24 hours, seven days a week following the Licensing Act 2003. This changed the previous legislation, which required pubs to close by 11PM, and clubs and bars to close between 2AM and 3AM. According to the new study, 68 percent of police officers blamed this change for the rise in alcohol-related crime and the associated strain of emergency services.

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