Doctors, police slam planned reform POLICE and doctors have slammed the Andrews government for announcing a plan to scrap public drunkenness laws without any detail on how violent cases will be managed.
The report says police should be used as a “last resort” when dealing with drunks with low-level cases sent home or to friends with the help of health services. High-level cases should be taken to hospital.
It also recommends “strict limits to police powers” be introduced.
AMA Victoria president Julian Rait said the changes would have to be managed carefully to ensure emergency departments weren’t overwhelmed , given doctors were already dealing with growing mental health cases.
Mr Gatt said police feared they would be used as a “taxi service” without adequate funding, however, with the government’s promised $16 million for trials falling short.
“Who will respond to triple-0 calls for assistance from the community when intoxicated people are putting them at risk?” he said.
“For decades police have fought to remove alcohol-fuelled violence from our streets. We cannot compromise on this work by making rash decisions .”
Victoria’s Aboriginal Executive Council chair Esme Bamblett said police would soon be “free” from enforcing an “antiquated harmful law”
— under which an average of 8269 people a year are charged — and that the public stood ready to “build the health and support response for vulnerable intoxicated people” .
“We will spend the next two years working closely with Aboriginal communities, health experts and other stakeholders, including police, to address any concerns and ensure the public health model provides the care and support required.
“This includes establishing trial sites that will be tested and evaluated before the repeal takes effect.”