Police forces across the country have started to give “goodie bags” containing condoms, flip-flops and lollipops to drunk revellers to counter the ill-effects of binge drinking.
By Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor
The Telegraph (UK)
Critics said the gifts, costing tens of thousands of pounds, appeared to “reward” people for drinking too much and causing anti-social behaviour in town centres.
Forces in North Wales, Sussex and West Yorkshire have already started to hand out the freebies to drunk revellers.
The plastic bags typically contain bottles of water, lollipops, flip-flops, and condoms, as well as tips on information on units of alcohol and a warning about the dangers of drink driving.
The latest campaign will see nearly 1,600 bags – split evenly between men and women and costing a total of over £2,000 – given out between now and New Year. It was launched on Friday night by Sussex police and is aimed at 18 to 24 year olds.
Holly Margetts, a violent crime reduction officer at Sussex Police, said: “We are encouraging people to drink responsibly and take some simple measures to ensure they stay safe.
“These goodie bags are our Christmas present to people enjoying nights out in the Horsham district.
“We hope that they’ll take note of the important messages and take some simple measures to ensure they stay safe.”
A number of police forces are now using gifts and presents to counter a rise in violence and anti-social behaviour after licensing rules were relaxed in November 2005.
In Llandudno, police are distributing bags containing personal safety alarms, condoms and bottles of water while in Huddersfield police have set up a van to sell flip-flops, condoms and sweets to revellers.
Last month, it emerged that another force, Devon & Cornwall, was giving flip-flops to women who may have trouble walking in high heels after a night out.
Police in Bolton have also started to hand out free orange and blue bubble blowers, which double as pens, to stop revellers picking fights as they pour out of pubs and bars.