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Addiction. 1995 Jun;90(6):793-803.

Drunkenness among police detainees.

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Forensic Psychiatry Department, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London, UK.


All detainees at seven police stations within the Metropolitan Police Area were observed by the authors. Continuous 24-hour cover was provided at each station for periods of 3 weeks. The number of people arrested for offences of drunkenness was noted, as was the apparent degree of drunkenness of all detainees, irrespective of arrest offence. Arrest for drunkenness in London was strongly associated with being white and with having been born in Scotland or Ireland. Within the confines of the station, being drunk was associated with aggressiveness, with the need for medical examination and with delays in implementing interview procedures. The physical condition of many chronically drunk people was very poor and evidence of long-term self neglect was common. Formal cautioning of drunkenness offenders has effectively removed such people from the courts; in the present study only 5% of those arrested for drunkenness alone were subsequently charged. Despite this the police in London must continue to arrest and detain the drunk and incapable for want of suitable alternatives.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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