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Drug Alcohol Rev. 2010 Nov;29(6):647-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1465-3362.2010.00223.x.

Alcohol screening and brief intervention in a policing context: A mixed methods feasibility study.

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1
Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION AND AIMS:

There is a strong association between alcohol and offending behaviour and 25% of police time involves alcohol-related incidents. This pilot study aimed to investigate the feasibility of delivering alcohol screening and brief intervention (ASBI) to individuals arrested for offences linked to drinking behaviour.

DESIGN AND METHODS:

Participants were detainees arrested for public order or assault offences in one North East police station in England. Following a 2 h training session, 10 Detention Officers (DOs) conducted ASBI over 3 months during routine police work. In-depth interviews with the DOs provided further details about the acceptability of ASBI procedures.

RESULTS:

Of 704 target arrestees, 229 (33%) agreed to participate in the study. Most were male (81%), white British (95%) and under the age of 30 (62%). Fifty-nine per cent screened positively for an alcohol use disorder (50% were hazardous, 15% harmful and 35% dependent drinkers), although 23% detainees either refused or were unable to complete the screening tool. Of the 134 participants that screened positively, 98% were willing to receive brief intervention. DOs reported mixed views about ASBI; while half were positive about the process the remaining DOs expressed reservations about the appropriateness of the policing context for ASBI.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS:

Despite limited training, DOs were able to deliver ASBI during routine police work. These findings provide a promising platform for future evaluative research on brief intervention outcomes in this setting. However, the issue of coercion needs to be explored more fully with both detainees and DOs.[Brown N, Newbury-Birch D, McGovern R, Phinn E, Kaner E. Alcohol screening and brief intervention in a policing context: A mixed methods feasibility study.

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