London - British police chiefs proposed on Wednesday creating privately run "drunk tanks" to house revellers who drink so much they cannot look after themselves - and they would be given a bill for their care the next day.
Adrian Lee, a chief constable who leads police policy on alcohol harm, argued that too much time is wasted by officers and health workers dealing with people who have consumed so much alcohol they require medical treatment.
He made the suggestion at the launch of a new campaign aimed at highlighting alcohol harm, amid ongoing concerns about the pressure drinkers are putting on accident and emergency services and police.
"I do not see why the police service or the health service should pick up the duty of care for someone who has chosen to go out and get so drunk that they cannot look after themselves," said Lee, chief constable of Northamptonshire Police, north of London.
"So why don't we take them to a drunk cell owned by a commercial company and get the commercial company to look after them during the night until they are sober?
"When that is over we will issue them with a fixed penalty and the company will be able to charge them for their care, which would be at quite significant cost and that might be a significant deterrent."