A scheme to tackle alcohol related crime and disorder
Safe Newcastle Partners have piloted a scheme to cut alcohol-related crime and disorder.
When people arrested for being Drunk and Disorderly are assessed as being suitable for a Fixed Penalty Notice they are offered the chance to reduce their fine by attending the Newcastle Alcohol Behaviour Change Course.
Up until December 2012 police officers handed out an £80 (now £90) fixed penalty notice for being Drunk and Disorderly. However, this is reduced to £40 provided the person attends the course. If they refuse, the full fine would be payable. Options are explained in a leaflet given to those being handed a fine.
Safe Newcastle Partnership worked with Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Trust to write the course which uses local material.
The course focuses on reducing alcohol intake by educating on its impact on health and behaviour, as well as the effects on other people.
It's hoped attendees will change their drinking habits which will in turn cut drink-fuelled offences.
Close to 200 people have attended the course to date and consideration is being given to extending its use.
Inspector Louise Cass-Williams, from Newcastle Area Command, said: "It's well documented that alcohol can lead to criminal behaviour, not to mention impairing judgement and making people more vulnerable.
"Instead of offering a straight punishment for those caught being drunk and disorderly, we are offering advice and information through this course so that people alter their drinking habits and avoid becoming involved in crime and disorder through drinking. We see this as a more effective way to deal with such offences.”
"Similar schemes across the country have shown that there is a very low rate of re-offending once a person has attended a diversionary scheme. The course challenges people's thinking and behaviour, plus gives them a chance to understand how alcohol intake effects their behaviour, body, other people and society as a whole. We hope it proves to be a success in the city which could see it being rolled out across the force area."
Jan Kelly, Reducing Reoffending and Anti-Social Behaviour Coordinator, Safe Newcastle, said, “As well as the benefits of improving people’s behaviour and health, the costs of running the course is paid for by the offenders themselves, and is not a draw on the public purse.”