• Wed. Jun 19th, 2024

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Impact of alcohol on emergency services

Councillors have produced a series of recommendations on ways to reduce the impacts of alcohol on the emergency services.


Durham County Council’s Safer and Stronger Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee has come up with seven possible actions having conducted a review in order to establish the impact of alcohol related incidents on the levels of demand for emergency services within County Durham.

The review found that alcohol significantly impacts on the work of the emergency services with drunkenness placing an avoidable demand on police, fire, ambulance and medical services.

The study also concluded that alcohol affects the safety of emergency service workers with employees facing abuse and the risk of assault on a daily basis. 

On the back of the review’s findings, the committee has come up with recommendations on how the impacts of alcohol might be reduced at both local and national level.

They include:

–        Encouraging the Safe Durham Partnership (SDP) to continue lobbying for a reduction in the legal alcohol limit for driving and for the introduction of minimum unit pricing of alcohol.

–        That its findings be shared with the Local Government Association’s Safer Communities Board so they can be used as evidence in Parliament’s review of the Licensing Act 2003.

–        That the SDP board agrees to share the findings with local MPs in order that they be used as evidence in relation to the lowering of the drink drive limit and minimum unit pricing.

–        That alcohol education events hosted by SDP members include the impact of alcohol on the emergency services.


The recommendations go to Durham County Council’s Cabinet on 14 December when members will be asked to prepare a response within six months and for the report to be presented to the SDP board.

Cllr Joy Allen, Cabinet member for safer communities, said: “We often hear stories of how our emergency services are stretched.

“Demands placed on them by avoidable alcohol related incidents can have a negative impact on response times that can cost lives.

“The welfare of emergency service workers is paramount and it’s concerning that those working on the front line regularly face abuse and risk of assault as a result of alcohol.

 “I’d like to thank the scrutiny committee for the excellent work it has done in this important area and we will be considering its findings closely as we prepare our response.” 

The review saw research carried out alongside meetings with officers and service professionals and appropriate field study activity.

 Cllr Thomas Nearney, chairman of the group which led the review, said: “From the outset, we were committed to working with the emergency services to understand the issues they face in terms of alcohol related demand and seek potential ways to reduce it. 

“There is obviously no one solution or quick fix but we believe the recommendations we have come up with could make a difference.”