We should make drunks pay for their misbehaviour

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Our front page picture of a young man sprawled comatose in Portsmouth city centre is a truly shocking image.

So is the diary of mayhem kept by our reporter Priya Mistry as she travelled with paramedics on a night shift in the city.

But while our report today will appal many, we fear that it will shock few in terms at least of coming as any surprise.

For regrettably we have become accustomed to scenes of drunkenness on our streets and to reports of the violence and mayhem that ensues. We should not forget the tough task faced by those who are left to pick up the pieces and to restore calm, which is one reason why we believe that our extensive coverage today is worthwhile.

Another is that, in this week in which we highlight alcohol-related problems in this area, it again brings the matter sharply into focus. That can only fuel renewed public debate – and that can only put more pressure, not just on politicians but on all of us, to rid our streets of this sorry mess.

It’s not an easy task, because any clampdown on the reckless few is likely to affect the rights of the law-abiding majority.

So while we have sympathy, for instance, with calls for a minimum charge for alcoholic drinks, we do not consider that an ideal solution.

Unfortunately, those hell-bent on drinking themselves to insensibility are likely to find the means somehow, whatever the cost.

As before, we say again that the courts should come down as hard as possible on those who commit crime in these circumstances.

We believe they should also be forced to pay the costs of the emergency services and of any hospital treatment needed for themselves or others as a result of their actions.

Such court orders would need to be backed by the full force of the law. Anyone thinking they could get away with it should have their possessions taken to meet the debt.

Whatever measures we take to curb misbehaviour, there will always be a minority who think they are not affected. They must be taught the hard way that causing mayhem on the streets is not acceptable. It’s the real version of zero tolerance.