Money from the Criminal Confiscation Fund has been used to revamp the island’s Drunk and Incapable Unit.
Its purpose is to avoid the need for police detention, or hospitalisation, when people are found drunk and incapable in a public place and so saves the courts, the police and the hospital a great deal of time and the use of valuable resources.
It also means that the individual does not face a criminal charge for a one-off event and is able to sober up in a safe and secure environment.
The Drunk and Incapable Unit is a service run in partnership between the States of Jersey Police Service and the Shelter Trust where drunk and incapable individuals are looked after by the Trust in a dedicated facility whilst they sober up rather than facing charges for being drunk and incapable and being looked after by the Criminal Justice System at Rouge Bouillion.
The £20,000 refurbishment means the new look unit is compliant with the latest safety standards and provides secure facilities for anyone who needs to spend the night at the Unit rather than at Police Headquarters. It gives those who have had a few too many to drink a safe place to sober up away from the Police Custody Suite or the hospital.
People are usually brought to the facility by police who have found the person drunk and incapable with no one taking care of them. Taking them to the unit means they avoid the criminal justice system or a hospital admission, but they are required to stay there for up to 8 hours. Anyone who refused to stay would be likely to face arrest.
Stuart Campbell manager of the facility at the Shelter Trust, said: “It might be thought that those using the unit are people with a drink problem, but that is not necessarily the case. The people we have coming here are the general public. It’s the person who has gone out on the first sunny day of the year and drunk the same amount as usual but become dehydrated and intoxicated or the person who has gone to the Christmas party having not drunk all year. On one occasion we even had the mother of the bride.
“Most people who have drunk too much are usually helped home by friends, without causing danger to themselves or to anyone else. We care for those who haven't been looked after by their friends and we provide a safe environment where they can sober up without ending up in a police cell, which is no one’s best interests.”
As well as the refurbishment, the staff at the Unit have been given comprehensive training by officers from the States of Jersey Police. The three-day safe detention course is undertaken by police officers but has given staff at the unit awareness of how to safely care for an intoxicated person.
Inspector Sarah Henderson, who made the submission to the compensation board, said: “The unit provides those who have had too much to drink a supportive environment rather than a criminal one, as it is not in the public’s interest to put these people in the court system.
“By training the staff in the same way as we do our own officers it gives them the confidence and the safety knowledge to deal with those who have too much to drink.
“In recent months and years the UK government have been looking at schemes similar to this to relieve pressure on police custody suites and hospitals. In Jersey we have had this facility for a number of years and while the work is not often seen it is invaluable to us as a Force.”
The Shelter Trust can be contacted on 730235.
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