By Jack Wittels
LAMBETH has been ranked the worst borough in South London for ambulance callouts to binge drinkers who can’t handle their booze.
Alcohol related incidents cost the borough over £400,000 a year with paramedics responding to more than 1700 incidents in 2012, a new study reveals.
With over 1000 licensed venues in Lambeth, only Camden and Westminster scored worse in the city-wide review; the parliamentary borough topped the table with over 3,800 callouts costing more than £890,000.
The GLA Conservatives, who commissioned the study, have proposed opening ‘sobering centres’ and expanding a fleet of specially equipped ‘booze buses’ to take the pressure off the emergency services.
“Many people like a tipple, but our public services should not be catering for bingers who can’t handle their drink,” said London Assembly Member Gareth Bacon.
“Our ambulances, prison cells and A&Es are designed for medical emergencies or dangerous criminals, yet we are seeing London’s drunks hogging these services, costing the capital millions of pounds. We need to deal with drunks in a more appropriate way.”
With the London Ambulance Service spending £16 million a year on responding to and treating drunks, the study proposed opening three purpose-built sobering centres across London where revellers could be offered basic care, such as blood pressure and sugar level checks, as well as a place to sleep.
It also called for London’s existing Booze Bus fleet –which drive intoxicated patients to hospital and offer basic care- to be expanded from one to ten, as well as fines for drunkenness to be raised from £90 to £180.
Responding to the worrying statistics, earlier this year Lambeth council proposed an Early Morning Restriction Order (EMRO) which would ban three bars and an off-license in Clapham from serving alcohol between midnight and 6am. The proposal, which locals and pub owners petitioned against, was quashed during the review period.