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Monday, 12 September 2011

"Jersey Live: Breathalyser For (under-age) Drinkers?"

"Under-age Drinking? - There Is No Such Law!"

YOUNG festival-goers at next year’s Jersey Live could be breathalysed following serious concerns over under-age binge drinking at last weekend’s festival.
The States and honorary police, as well as the St John Ambulance and the Constable of Trinity, have all said they were concerned about high levels of drunkenness during the two-day event, particularly among children.
On the first day alone, St John Ambulance volunteers treated 36 people – including 34 under-age drinkers – who were so drunk they were incapable of looking after themselves. Some of the drinkers were as young as 13. And the States police have said that they are so concerned that they are now preparing a report for the Solicitor General and the Licensing Assembly.
Warren Holt, co-organiser of Jersey Live, said that he was ‘disappointed’ with the comments made by the authorities and said that staff had done everything possible to prevent under-age drinking. But he added that the organisers were considering introducing random breath-tests next year to crack down on under-age drinking.

 I Challenge anyone in the States or the Police Force to show me a Law that forbids any kind of drinking of alcohol, anywhere, by anyone!

Keep the crime levels at this event in perspective

From David Rotherham.

THANK you for including the statistics in your featured story on drunkenness and disorder at Jersey Live (JEP, 7 September). They provide welcome perspective and proportion to the alarmist comments by the police.

As a starting point, the ideal level of any crime, from parking on a yellow line up to murder, is zero, ever. They wouldn’t be crimes, if society did not agree that they should not be allowed to happen. However, people will be people, and some will sometimes do these things anyway. Thus, we need all the expensive apparatus of law enforcement. And, moving from the ideal to the real world, all that we can fairly ask of the enforcers is that they drive crime down to reasonably low levels.

If one reads the news, goes out with one’s eyes open or gets to hear some of the anecdotes that circulate in secondary schools, it is plain that Jersey generally has two overlapping problems of alcohol-related disorder and alcohol consumption by the inappropriately young. These social norms are not going to magically vanish at the queue to get into Jersey Live or any other entertainment, so once again, all that can be fairly asked is that they are suppressed to low levels.

Jersey Live forbid their customers from bringing their own drink, even soft, and offer a very limited range of alcoholic drinks at high cost as a deterrent, so, although it is possible for the determined to be drunk all day there, they are already actively discouraging it. Moreover, there are extensive patrols by both security staff and police. Also, although I am grey and wrinkly enough not to get challenged, they seem to be very strict on age control. It is not obvious to me that there is much scope for making things still stricter, without turning it all into a downright unpleasant experience for everyone.

Fortunately, we all now know the scale of the problem: 99.4% of festival-goers kept sober enough not to get into trouble at all, 0.4% got so drunk they needed expert care and 0.2% fell foul of the police in one way or another.

Suppose the police scored a bull’s-eye with their complaints, and Jersey Live was not allowed to be held again: Who really believes that less than 0.4% of the people who would have been there would get thoroughly drunk that weekend anyway, or that less than 0.2% of them would do things that could get them arrested if there were police around? All that this weekend did was to make what goes on all the time anyway a little more visible than usual.
I contend that any substantial further tightening up would damage the festival’s appeal as a weekend of carefree fun while achieving very diminished returns in reducing drunkenness and disorder from the very low levels already noted.

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