Courses, not court for city drunks

DRUNKEN revellers from Hucknall and Bulwell who commit alcohol-fuelled offences in Nottingham city centre will be given the chance to avoid prosecution by taking part in a new education programme.

The homelessness charity Framework, which has a base at Under One Roof on Vine Terrace, Hucknall, has joined forces with Nottinghamshire police, Nottingham City NHS and the Nottingham City Drug and Alcohol Service to launch the Alcohol Diversion Scheme (ADS) in a bid to tackle alcohol abuse and disorder.

The scheme, which is part of Framework’s successful Last Orders alcohol-treatment service, will allow drinkers who commit less serious offences to avoid an £80 fine, possible court appearance and criminal record — and instead fork out £40 to attend the course, with no criminal sanctions if they complete it successfully.

Caroline Thompson, clinical lead for Last Orders, said: “We are offering a three-hour course that will provide facts about alcohol and its links to health and crime before it can have a really damaging impact on people’s personal lives, their careers and their health.

“In the run-up to Christmas, we know that thousands of people will celebrate with friends and family. We also know, however, that more people will get into trouble with the police because of alcohol abuse.

“This is a very different approach to tackling what has become a very serious issue. But we are confident that the diversion scheme will save huge amounts of public money and benefit those people who are referred to it.”

During a pilot period of six months, the self-financing scheme will cover those found to be drunk and disorderly in the city centre. If it is extended, it will also cover minor offences of violence.

Police and community support officers will hand out Know Your Limits forms to anybody they deem suitable.

Courses, which begin on Saturday November 26 at Framework’s central office in Gregory Boulevard, Nottingham, will focus on the dangers of excessive drinking, alcohol and the law and the long-term health consequences.

Insp Andy Townsend, of Nottinghamshire police, said he hoped the course would cut down on the number of people who re-offend.