The danger of drinking before embarking on a night out is a key theme of this year’s annual Christmas safety campaign.
A collaborative project between Public Health, Isle of Man Constabulary and Bus Vannin, #DrinkSafeIOM is launched today (Thursday 23 November) and will run until Sunday 7 January 2018.
Posters and flyers are being distributed around the Island at the beginning of the festive season, warning people against what is known as pre-drinking or pre-loading and illustrating the potential consequences – including convictions, violence, illness and damage to property.
Information will be also be available on how to get home safely, including details of last buses from Douglas to the north, south and west of the Island.
Pre-drinking is the term used for alcohol consumed at home or house parties ahead of a night out around bars and clubs. This is done for a number of reasons, in particular to get relaxed and ready for a night out as well as saving money because drinking at home is cheaper.
Pre-drinking has been chosen as the theme of this year’s campaign by the Central Police Alcohol Unit due to a marked increase in the level of people’s intoxication after having only consumed one or two drinks on licensed premises. Research carried out by the unit has shown that, when asked to pour out a measure of alcohol consumed at home, the majority of people poured at least double the amount they thought to be an optic measure.
Sergeant Wendy Barker from the Central Police Alcohol Unit said:
‘Many have been surprised at how much they have consumed in the house before even going out. This behaviour clearly puts people at risk health-wise and UK studies strongly indicate that pre-drinking makes them more likely to be involved in fights, misjudge risky situations and become victims of sexual assault.
‘Locally, taxi drivers have told us of their concern about picking people up from home, who are already intoxicated, and taking them into town. This campaign is centred on raising awareness of the potential consequences of drinking before going out, and emphasising the need to have a plan in order to stay as safe as possible.’
The festive period represents one of the busiest times of the year for frontline staff within the emergency services and at Noble’s Hospital.
Health and Social Care Minister Kate Beecroft MHK said:
‘The festive season is obviously a time when people want to go out and enjoy themselves and sometimes drink more than they are used to. We want to use this year’s campaign to urge everyone to think about how much you are consuming, plan how you are going to get home and ensure you and your friends stay safe.
‘The advice we really want people to heed is: limit how much you drink; drink more slowly; drink with food; and alternate with water or non-alcoholic drinks.’
Police will be focussing resources on anti-social behaviour and deterring drink-driving with a visible presence around the Island, and want to play a key role in ensuring residents have a good time and get home safely.
Officers from the Roads Policing Unit and regional neighbourhood teams along with members of the Special Constabulary will all be actively seeking to prevent drink-driving offences and, where necessary, take action against those who choose to drive while under the influence of alcohol. Many will be working extended shifts throughout the period.
Sergeant Jamie Tomlinson from the Roads Policing Unit said:
‘The consequences of drink-driving can be devastating. The festive period is a time to celebrate but I would urge everyone concerned to plan their nights out – but more importantly to plan their journeys home.
‘Provisions are in place for people to get home safely without the need to take a gamble and put lives at risk by getting into their car. They may never get home or they may wake up in hospital.’
The #DrinkSafeIOM campaign will be supported by advice and guidance promoted throughout the festive period via the Constabulary and Public Health social media channels.
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