People in West Sussex will be able to attend a £45 course rather than pay the usual £90 fine if they admit to being drunk and disorderly.
The Alcohol Diversion Scheme will be introduced to tackle alcohol abuse in the area as an alternative to the fine, in a similar way speed awareness courses hope deter dangerous driving.
The decision was made after an alcohol awareness course in Brighton and Hove proved to be successful, and is being supported by Sussex Police, West Sussex County Council, Pub Watch Schemes and Community Safety Partnerships.
Chief Inspector Tanya Jones, who is leading the project, told The Argus: “The course is hard hitting – it contains information about the damage which can be caused by binge drinking and offers the opportunity for people to really reflect on the risks around their behaviour.
“In other forces there has been a significant reduction in attendees becoming victims or perpetrators of violent crime, and a dramatic decrease in accident and emergency admissions.”
Although some may find this proposal a waste of time, it has been successful in areas other than Brighton and Hove, with similar schemes run in Derbyshire, Devon and Cornwall proving to have some success.
Whilst the scheme is not necessarily likely to change the lives of people with serious alcohol dependency problems, it could potentially warn some wondering around town that their drinking has become an issue.
West Sussex County Council cabinet member for community wellbeing, Christine Field summed up the purpose of the scheme when she told The Argus: “It provides a chance for people to assess their drinking and the impact it is having not only on their life, but on those around them.
“The very fact they will have been invited to participate in this scheme will be an indication that their alcohol use is causing problems.”
Although some people are bound to use this scheme as an excuse to get off paying the £90 fine, if it helps anyone sort out their drinking problems, many will see it as a success.