RU2Drunk Pilot: Results

18 January 2017
The initiative ran from Friday 16 September to Friday 16 December 2016. Members of the public were asked to give their feedback about the scheme via an online survey.

Dorset Police worked closely with senior lecturers at the University of Exeter, who developed the analysis and carried out the evaluation of the project. 

Breathalysers were distributed to 29 pubs, clubs and bars across Weymouth who each set an alcohol limit for their premise. Door staff were able to use readings that exceeded this limit as an additional tool, supporting their own judgement when refusing entry.

In December, typically one of the busiest times in the night time economy of Weymouth, there was a 15% reduction in violent crime compared to 2015 figures.

Weymouth Neighbourhood Inspector Pete Browning said: “We are obviously pleased to see that the number of violent crimes in the town is down.

“However, it is difficult to establish a specific link between this data and the RU2Drunk initiative, particularly given the minimal changes in crime statistics from September to November. We will therefore be treating the scheme as one factor, along with our own safety campaigns and support from local media, contributing to the decline.”

In terms of awareness, the feedback showed that 83% of respondents from Weymouth and surrounding areas and over half of residents from elsewhere in Dorset knew that the pilot was taking place.

Inspector Browning continued: “Everyone involved in the project would like to thank local and national media for their help in raising its profile. This extends to members of the public who shared information about RU2Drunk on social media with family and friends.

“Knowledge of the scheme and its overarching aim to reduce violent crime and ASB through changing certain practices such as pre-loading is critical in achieving the reductions long term.”

While the project team were pleased to see that awareness of the initiative was high, the positive results were limited due to a lack of consistency in using the scheme.

Dr Hannah Farrimond, Senior Lecturer in Medical Sociology from the University of Exeter, said: “‘We know from the initial pilot in Devon that the breathalysers can be an effective tool, but that it needs to be widely used by all licensed premises in the scheme area and our data suggests this was not the case in Weymouth.

“Having spoken with premises, security staff, and the public as part of the evaluation, there appears to have been divided support for the scheme which can undermine its potential effects. However, some encouraging signs are there, with some venues continuing to use the breathalysers after the trial.”

The Force is keen to work with these supportive premises to continue exploring how the scheme can have a positive impact in Dorset.

Inspector Browning commented: “Approximately 2 in 5 members of the public in Weymouth surveyed agreed with us that this project can succeed in changing drinking habits in the town. Schemes of this nature, aiming to influence people’s long term behaviour, will naturally take time to become fully embedded.

“A number of meaningful learning points have been gained from this pilot. We will be using these to improve the running of the project and will offer support to business that want to continue using the breathalysers.”

The project was funded jointly, by Weymouth Business Improvement District and the Officer of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC).

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill, said: “Reducing the number of people seriously harmed in Dorset is one of the priorities I have committed to focus on. This includes protecting visitors to our night-time economies.

“While the pilot of the RU2Drunk scheme did not produce the level of positive outcomes we were hoping for, it has allowed us to identify some areas that need attention in order to ensure Weymouth is a safe place to live and visit.

“The problems we see in our night-time economies will only be solved by a multi-agency approach, so we need the support of licencees and local businesses. The results of the University of Exeter’s report will guide future improvements and I will remain committed to using innovative methods to reduce crime and protect victims in Dorset.”

Weymouth BID Manager, Nigel Reed, added: “The potential benefits of this scheme are consistent with the BID’s business plan to support the night time economy. Whilst it did not receive the same level of support from businesses as the trial in Torquay it makes sense to continue working in partnerships on this, and other projects that improve the experience for all when out and about in Weymouth.”

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