Boozers in Lambeth call out more ambulances than any other London borough

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.

'Booze buses' will pick up late night revelers to take the pressure of ambulance services

‘Booze buses’ pick up late night revelers to take the pressure of ambulance services

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.