4th July Drink Independence Day

How will people react to being able to go out drinking?

What could possibly go wrong?

Obviously, the government and local authorities looked at and considered all the possible problems and impact of opening pubs on a Saturday in July, and with a full moon as well! No idea how or why but yes, ask any experienced police officer and they will confirm that for some reason a full moon does seem to coincide with even more inexplicable behaviour from the public. We have not quite witnessed any werewolves as such, but on occasions some individuals have only just stopped short of literally howling at the moon.

I do fear for crime and disorder this coming weekend with pubs opening for the first time since March and some official encouragement being given to go out and `have fun`. We have seen gatherings in parks and open areas with people `socially drinking if not quite socially distancing` but what can be done and how does the Police service cope?

Why do we need the Police service to cope and is it just policing and the other emergency services that will be expected to manage the predicted chaos from permitting the public back into licensed premises? Is there not a responsibility on breweries and landlords to manage their own businesses? Do they need to open all day from Saturday?

In sequence then – yes Policing will be needed to deal with the inevitable increase in alcohol related calls to the emergency services, together with the paramedics and accident & emergency departments dealing with any resulting medical needs. They will be needed because I doubt common sense will prevail amongst many eagerly anticipating the opening of the pubs. We have seen examples of a lack of common sense amongst a minority of the public throughout this pandemic. We have witnessed the stockpiling of toilet rolls and pasta to the hordes of people swamping public beaches and attending various protest events in their thousands, despite pleas and reminders that there is a killer pandemic in our society. So, the Police service will be needed this coming weekend because I foresee significant sections of society being unable to drink sensibly and control their behaviour. I really hope I am mistaken for the sake of every police officer working Saturday and Sunday and every paramedic and A&E member of staff.

Why is it just the emergency services who will be expected to manage this alleged chaos?

I really hope it is not and I did hear a very welcome and positive message during a radio phone-in last week. A manager of a pub called in and said that the brewery had taken the decision themselves to open on the Monday to avoid the anticipated rush for a drink. They had introduced social distancing measures in their pubs and would monitor and manage any excessive drinking from their clientele. Any sign of disorder or violence and the manager had the authority to immediately close the premises and stop serving.

That sounded a reasonable and sensible approach – does beg the question why government had not considered staggering or having a slower and more gradual return for the opening of the pubs. We are where we are – unprecedented times, these are two sayings that have almost haunted every news bulletin or government briefing since the start of this several months ago.

I could never see the government performing another U turn on policy by moving the opening of pubs back a few days. So, it is left to the licensing trade and the responsible breweries and managers, to start the process of slowly and carefully introducing alcohol back into general society.

As in the full moon example, ask any Police officer or paramedic if there is any impact on their workload from pubs and the consumption of alcohol and they will look at you as if you just asked the most stupid question in the world. Of course there is and on some days and nights it increases, such as a Saturday evening in the summer just after the end of the month when people have been paid – factor in a full moon and you almost have a full house! At the risk of being labelled killjoys, most Police officers and paramedics working this weekend will be practising their `rain dances` and hoping that the good old British summer that usually coincides with a very wet Wimbledon tennis will not let them down. The best policing available comes from `PC rain` to dampen the desire to stand in the street and shout and swear and fight whoever happens to come along because you drank three too many extra strong lagers.

Across the UK, Police chiefs will be drawing up plans to post their `extra` officers into mobile support units and await the increase in calls for assistance. I would anticipate a highly visible police presence in many towns and cities as officers are taken from their local policing areas and away from response policing and community teams, so they are ready to respond this weekend. Numerous officers will have had their rest day cancelled, shifts changed and to expect a much longer shift to meet the demand placed on them by the decision to open pubs on a Saturday night.

I wish them well and hope they all stay safe  – if you do intend taking advantage of the pubs being open, then please drink responsibly and be courteous and respectful to any emergency services personnel that you may encounter. Follow their guidance or requests and comply with any instructions given.

That is not too much to ask as you celebrate your drink independence is it?