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Keywords:

  • alcohol;
  • screening;
  • brief intervention;
  • police

Abstract

Introduction and Aims. There is a strong association between alcohol and offending behaviour and 25% of police time involves alcohol-related incidents. This pilot study aimed to investigate the feasibility of delivering alcohol screening and brief intervention (ASBI) to individuals arrested for offences linked to drinking behaviour. Design and Methods. Participants were detainees arrested for public order or assault offences in one North East police station in England. Following a 2 h training session, 10 Detention Officers (DOs) conducted ASBI over 3 months during routine police work. In-depth interviews with the DOs provided further details about the acceptability of ASBI procedures. Results. Of 704 target arrestees, 229 (33%) agreed to participate in the study. Most were male (81%), white British (95%) and under the age of 30 (62%). Fifty-nine per cent screened positively for an alcohol use disorder (50% were hazardous, 15% harmful and 35% dependent drinkers), although 23% detainees either refused or were unable to complete the screening tool. Of the 134 participants that screened positively, 98% were willing to receive brief intervention. DOs reported mixed views about ASBI; while half were positive about the process the remaining DOs expressed reservations about the appropriateness of the policing context for ASBI. Discussion and Conclusions. Despite limited training, DOs were able to deliver ASBI during routine police work. These findings provide a promising platform for future evaluative research on brief intervention outcomes in this setting. However, the issue of coercion needs to be explored more fully with both detainees and DOs.[Brown N, Newbury-Birch D, McGovern R, Phinn E, Kaner E. Alcohol screening and brief intervention in a policing context: A mixed methods feasibility study. Drug Alcohol Rev 2010;29;647–654]