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Success of Torquay breathboxes could see scheme spread

The success of a police pilot project in Torquay where doormen at licensed premises breathalysed suspected drunks could see the scheme implemented across Devon and Cornwall.

#RU2drunk was piloted in 23 of Torquay’s key nightspots during December to see if it helped reduce alcohol fuelled incidents and it resulted in a 39 per cent drop in violent crime.

Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Hogg, who funded the pilot, has described the results as ‘startling’.

There is support from all sides for #RU2drunk to become business as usual in Torquay and its success makes it likely Mr Hogg’s office will support other areas wanting to improve their night-time economy.

The highlights were 39 per cent fewer violent crimes in the town centre and around the harbour side which lead to a 22 per cent reduction across the town. 

The pilot saw over 800 men and women breathalysed when doormen suspected they were drunk - over a third were then refused entry. 

Chief Inspector Neil Ralph said: “The findings are impressive. In Torquay, approximately 20 per cent of all violent crime is attributable to the night time economy and a substantial number of these offences happen in the town centre and harbour side area. The breathalyser scheme has proved to be extremely effective in reducing these crimes.”

Tony Hogg who funded the scheme said: “This has been a most important project and has generated good, interesting results.

“We will work with Torbay to ensure the project can continue and my office is now looking at the funding we have to see how we can supply breathboxes to other areas where we feel a similar scheme will be welcomed.

“I’m delighted to see that Plymouth has generated its own scheme so we will now look for other areas that are high on the list of places that are blighted by overindulgence in alcohol in the night-time economy and the culture of pre-loading.”

Mathew Jarrett, manager of Mambo’s said “We saw fewer potential issues which may have erupted and we also saw older clientele using our facilities. We hope the scheme will continue as it will only make Torquay a safer place to enjoy a nice evening out. The scheme had no negative impact on our business financially”.

Dr Hannah Farrimond and Dr Katharine Boyde from the University of Exeter carried out an independent study of the scheme among members of the public and 79 percent of responders said it was a good idea.

“This has been a great opportunity to work in collaboration with Devon & Cornwall Police. We think the scheme has shown some promising results with regards to reducing alcohol related crime,” said Dr Farrimond.

Public opinion seems to support Mr Hogg’s hopes for a wider roll out with 78 per cent of those asked thinking the scheme should be expanded to other places.

Facts about #RU2drunk

  • There are 23 licensed premises in the harbour side area – they all participated in the scheme
  • The pilot run from 1st December 2014-31st December 2014
  • The OPCC contributed £6,800 to purchase 23 breath boxes – one for each establishment
  • Door staff used the breath box to ‘breathalyse’ anyone attempting to gain entry to their premises
  • Some establishments set their own limits


  •  All figures provided are in comparison to December 2013
  • 809 people were breathalysed
  • 298 people were refused entry
  • Total violent crime in Torquay reduced by 22%
  • 39% less violent crimes against the person (excl domestic abuse) in Torquay town centre and around the harbour side
  • Total average reading 77.3 for everyone breath tested
  • Average reading for people refused entry was 113.3 (117.4 for males and 100.4 for females)

Licensee feedback

  • 100% said the breathalyser was easy to use
  • 100% said it was reliable
  • 100% understood the readings
  • 55% said it helped ID drunk people
  • 45% said it helped protect the public and themselves
  • 66% set a limit on entry
  • 50% said it helped resolve conflict on doors
  • 70% said the scheme should continue
  • 73% would recommend it to other licensed premises.