REVELLERS out on the town may be in for a surprise when they are approached by a police officer brandishing a red card. Police in the Omagh, Dungannon and Cookstown districts are implementing a new ‘red card’ policy in a bid to warn the public about the possible consequences of consuming too much alcohol.
PSNI officers have been out and about in the towns at night recently handing out an ‘Alcohol Harm Red Card’ informing the public of the possible consequences of over-indulging in alcohol. They have emphasised that the cards are “advisory” and not a fixed penalty or any form of prosecution notice.
The cards which will be handed out to people who are intoxicated, read, “Personal, Professional, Protective Policing. Alcohol harm – Red Card. You have been issued this Red Card by a police officer who has observed your behaviour and feels that you may be vulnerable to harm as a result of over consumption of alcohol.”
The card also warns that persons who have consumed too much alcohol are more vulnerable to, “Becoming involved in violence either as an offender or a victim; to becoming the victim of theft; to being sexually assaulted, to being arrested and prosecuted or to have an accident or injure themselves.” Inspector Hazel Reid explained,
“We understand people like to go out and enjoy themselves, but it is important to bear in mind overindulging in alcohol can leave you vulnerable and more susceptible to harm.”
Sorcha McAnespie, vice chair of Omagh District Council, recently spoke at a public meeting regarding late night drinking and violence in the town. She welcomed the initiative. Cllr McAnespie said, “Anything that would deter people from over-consumption of alcohol is welcome. As it is advisory and won’t be recorded against a person’s name, it is a good idea. “
If people had taken too much drink and had the card the next day it might make them reflect on their alcohol consumption. It is better than issuing fines or cautions.”
Inspector Reid added, “We want to keep the number of alcohol-related incidents to a minimum and remind revellers that each of us is responsible for our own actions, even when under the influence of alcohol.
“A criminal record for assault or a public order offence can put a dampener on future career prospects and could have even longer-term consequences, like affecting your eligibility to get a travel visa or gain entry to some overseas countries.”