Use the law to shame binge drinkers, says Widdecombe

Binge-drinking drunkards who blight Britain’s streets should be publicly named and shamed, Ann Widdecombe has said.

The former Conservative MP says the law should be used to “bring back the concept of shame” and deter “the wilder stages of excess”.

Miss Widdecombe, who investigated excessive drinking for a documentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, said public drunkenness has to “become socially unacceptable”.


Writing in the Radio Times, she said: “For an increasing number of young, professional women, the sun goes over the yardarm early on a Friday evening and it is the signal to take enough alcohol on board to sink the ship.”

Last month the Government revealed that it intends to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol, but Miss Widdecombe says there is “little hope” that it will have a significant effect.

She commented: “If the police carried out the occasional big blitz in the city centres on a Friday night, drafting in extra manpower and pursuing every single person who was drunk in A&E or incapable on the streets, then people going out specifically to get drunk would risk finding themselves in court on the Monday with their names and photographs in the papers.

“That might be a deterrent to the wilder stages of excess.”


She added: “I went out with half a dozen young women in their 20s to see how they ‘enjoyed’ themselves on such evenings and why. The group included a scientist, a nurse and two teachers.

“Nobody I interviewed considered getting hopelessly drunk a matter of shame and I ended the programme as baffled as I began.”

Last month a commentator at The Times said that the law should be better enforced and public drunkenness punished with fines.


Libby Purves said: “If we really want to tackle habitual drunkenness we should tighten that up sharply, and enforce existing laws. It is an offence to serve alcohol to a person already drunk, to buy it for them, to be disorderly, cause a nuisance, or be inebriated on public transport.

“Fines are from £200 to £1,000; premises licences can be cancelled. How much is enforced? Not nearly enough.”

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