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

Ms. Hannah Farrimond

Lecturer in Medical Sociology

Dr Hannah Farrimond is a lecturer in medical sociology in the department of Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology at the University of Exeter. Her PhD (UCL) focused on smoking identities across lower and higher socio-economic status groups in the UK. She publishes in the field of health and new medical technologies as well as addiction, with a particular focus on the socio-cultural issues raised by legal addictions. Current projects include a) a Q-methodological (mixed method) study of vapers’ perceptions of vaping b) continuing evaluation of the #RU2Drunk initiative using breathalyzers in clubs and c) Police Knowledge Fund grant for academic collaboration with Devon and Cornwall Police. She also has an ongoing interest in research ethics, having published ‘Doing Ethical Research’ (2012). Future research interests include developing larger-scale collaborative projects in relation to legal addictions, particularly on vaping regulation across Europe; alcohol-related harm and violence prevention; medication abuse amongst older people.

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

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.