The anti-alcohol lobby struck again today with the somewhat, frankly, bizarre news that customers are to be breathalysed before they enter premises in Loughborough. The scheme, timed to coincide with freshers’ week, will run until November 3rd and will be trialled in five premises: Amber Rooms, Revolution, Mansion, Echoes and the Students Union. Leicestershire Police and the local council have supplied all the venues with breath test equipment and training. Now Loughborough is a small market town that is well known for being a student hotspot and, at first glance, this could be seen as a sensible measure to deal with all the ‘booze-fuelled violence’ we hear so much about. Indeed most of the media coverage seemed to feature the obligatory passed-out-drunk photo. As PC Mike Green, Beacon Officer for Loughborough Town Centre, who is the coordinator for the initiative put it: “We want to raise awareness of the effects of excessive alcohol consumption on health and well-being, as well as supporting licensed premises to help them deal with customers who have had a bit too much to drink.
However, of course, this is all nonsense and doesn’t make any sense other than being yet another propaganda exercise. What is it supposed to prove or even achieve? The clue is in it being a ‘trial’ that may be rolled out later on after no doubt being trumpeted as a great success. And although ostensibly aimed at students, it equally could be applied to anyone. The daft thing is that the breathalyser is only being used as a guide and the discretion of entry will still remain with the venue. So what’s the point? And as they haven’t set out any official limits, where will the cut-off point be? The drink drive limit? When they burst the bag? The reality is you don’t need a breathalyser to tell if someone is too drunk to be allowed onto licensed premises and even it shows they have had a skinful, will that coachload of CAMRA pensioners really be trouble? Gimmick is the word we are looking for here
The saddest part of this is that the venues have decided to take part in this tomfoolery probably in some misguided attempt of appeasement. The Students Union in particular should hang its head in shame.