DRINKERS and drug users caught misbehaving in public will soon be sent on a course to help them change their attitude.
For a year, Hampshire Constabulary has been piloting the Penalty Notice for Disorder schemes.
It is run for those caught drunk, under the influence of drugs, in possession of cannabis or offences of criminal damage where alcohol or substance misuse is a factor.
Those caught have been given the option to pay an £80 fine or go on an educational course to understand the risks, harm and consequences caused by their behaviour.
From next month, first-time offenders will automatically be placed on the three-hour course, unless they choose to opt out. Offenders pay £40 to go on the course, and once it is completed the original fine is cancelled.
People can only attend once, so repeat offenders will face the courts.
Inspector Stuart Rennie, of Hampshire Constabulary, said: ‘The alcohol and cannabis diversion schemes are being relaunched to give as many offenders as possible the opportunity to participate in this educational programme, which will enable them to make better informed decisions and modify their behaviour in the future.’
The schemes are run by charity Druglink, which works with police forces and local agencies across the country to educate people on the dangers of alcohol, drug and substance misuse.
Sue Green, harm minimisation manager for the charity, said: ‘Binge drinkers are a hard group to reach because they don’t think they have a problem in the first place.
‘But they cause mayhem in cities across the country.
‘These courses educate people on the key issues of the physical and physiological harm drugs and alcohol cause.
‘We want people to take ownership of their actions and make behavioural changes so they do not repeat offences.
‘You wouldn’t swear at a police officer when you were sober, so why do it when you’re drunk?’
The sessions are run by people trained by Druglink.
In Hampshire, the sessions are being delivered by staff from South Central Ambulance Service.