#RU2Drunk? Using breathalyzers on entry to bars and clubs to reduce preloading and alcohol-related v

First published: 30 March 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019

Aims. The #RU2drunk pilot by South Devon Police required non-police personnel (door/bar staff) within the night-time economy (NTE) to use hand-held breathalyzers to identify those ‘too drunk’ to enter. The aim was to decrease alcohol-related violence, decrease preloading and create a more moderate drinking culture.

Design. Quasi-experimental between a) intervention town with #RU2Drunk scheme b) non-intervention town.

Setting: South Devon, intervention town 21 licensed premises (saturation of NTE area), non-intervention town 18, over one month Dec 1st 2014-Jan 1st 2015.

Participants: 301 members of the public; 32 bar/door staff from intervention town.

Measurement: Analysis of police crime statistics, public online survey to tap attitudes and questionnaires and semi-structured interviews with staff.

Findings. 818 breath tests were conducted in the trial month with 298 people (36%) refused entry. Breathalyzers were rarely used for blanket screening on entry, more to ‘reduce conflict’ in specific instances. Violence against the person in the night-time economy area dropped by 22.5% in the town overall (control area, 19% rise) and 39% in the NTE area. In the public attitudes survey, 79% were positive about the initiative, with a similar amount agreeing with wider implementation. Qualitative analysis of interviews with door staff suggests breathalysers are a valuable tool to ‘depersonalize’ potentially violent encounters. The scheme had considerable ‘reach’ through traditional and social media, with 800,000 unique hits on Facebook/#RU2Drunk website.

Conclusion. The #RU2Drunk pilot suggests non-police use of breathalyzers has the potential to change drinking behaviour; the discussion will consider the policy implications of their more widespread use.

Ms. Hannah Farrimond