Tackling the booze culture tops police boss's agenda
A night in clubland has convinced Devon and Cornwall's new Police and Crime Commissioner that tackling alcohol misuse will be one of his top priorities.
Tony Hogg, a former naval commander who as the Conservative candidate won the election for the role of PCC last month, joined officers on the ground in Plymouth on Friday night as they took part in Operation Expound, which deals with the evening and night time economy areas of the city on Fridays and Saturdays.
As reported in Monday's Western Morning News, Mr Hogg spent several hours on the front line with officers, walking Union Street, the Barbican leisure park, North Hill and Mutley, as well as visiting the custody suite at Charles Cross police station, the CCTV control room and Crownhill police station.
The 63-year-old former commander of RNAS Culdrose also met the city's street pastors and attended other drink-related incidents across the city during the night. The visit was organised by Plymouth Commander Chief Superintendent Chris Singer after a request from Mr Hogg to see the late night and early morning policing issues in the city centre at first hand.
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In response to his experiences in the city, Mr Hogg said: "The police were very professional about the role they have in protecting life and keeping public order in a very complicated environment.
"One club we went into had 3,000 people in there, and the police handled their appearance, the way they approached people and custody issues very professionally.
"I saw examples of antisocial behaviour and how the police dealt with it. Alcohol misuse, for me, is way up at the top of the list of issues because of the damage it can do in terms of wider violence, the effect on children and the pressure it puts on the police service.
"Alcohol in moderation is fine. I hope that everyone has a great time, particularly over the Christmas period, but when alcohol is misused, it consumes resources in a huge way. It puts a strain on the police, hospitals and social services, and there's a direct correlation with domestic violence and other forms of violence. We need to understand that when alcohol is used in an inappropriate way the cost is enormous."