The drinking ban on the tube/buses – waste of time?

OK, so this is a month or so late in coming, but I was sat on the top deck of the bus the other morning, and just across from me sat a bloke I’m assuming was a pretty far gone alcoholic, drinking some kind of super-strength lager from the can.

Now, just in case you don’t live in London or follow our news, ‘banning’ drinking on the tube and buses was the first move our new moron Mayor, Boris Johnson brought in.

Here’s the problem with it: It’s not a law. The ‘ban’ works on the fact that the tube is ‘private’ space, therefor you enter into an agreement with the tube owners when you get on that you’ll abide by their laws. The police can’t arrest you for drinking on the Tube, but the Tube’s own staff can ask you to leave. I’m not sure where they legally sit with being able to forcibly eject you.

The point at which your behaviour becomes legally a problem is when you resist their attempts to throw you off or confiscate your booze, and you can be done for breach of the peace.

And here’s what makes the law so effing stupid – that was already the case! You can be arrested for being drunk and disorderly anyway. If your behaviour in public is offensive, dangerous or constitutes a breach of the peace, the police can cart you off, wherever you might be behaving like that.

So banning drinking on the tube does nothing to make it ‘more criminal’ to be pissed and offensive on the tube, it just means that the staff on the tube end up having to put themselves in harm’s way by tackling people for drinking, who may or may not be drunk, or causing a problem, and who they can’t get any police support for until that person resists their attempts to exit them from the tube, by which time, someone’s probably got punched or puked on or generally upset. (they could feasibly have members of the British Transport Police shadowing them, or even doing the enforcement for them, but what a complete waste of police time!)

Surely it would’ve made a lot of sense to just up the numbers of transport police on the tube, and go with a publicity campaign about how behaving like an antisocial dick could get you in trouble with ‘actual laws’, rather than made-up unenforceable rules.

The other huge issue is that you have people getting onto the tube who after deciding to obey the new rule, have downed whatever their drink is just outside the station. So people are getting on the tube MORE drunk than before, not less so!

As a general rule, I really don’t like being around drunk people. I find them unpredictable and often unpleasant, and always less interesting than the same person when sober. But I know a stupid rule when I see one, and attempting to push the people who want to peaceably drink on the tube – whether they be getting tanked up on their way for a night out, or finishing a drink they didn’t want to leave behind when all their friends left the party they were at – seems like a recipe for more fights on the tube not less.

Perhaps it would’ve made more sense to have policed carriages on the tube late at night. Or depending on what the stats are relating to who exactly it was that’s being bothered, women-only policed carriages.

Or maybe the UK just needs to think a bit deeper about what is inspiring its teens and 20 somethings to go and get utterly shitfaced 3 nights a week – something that no amount of ‘bans’ on drinking are going to sort out.

…and maybe they should be doing more about the people smoking crack and crystal meth on the 29 bus before worrying about the dude with the bottle of Becks on his way out to a gig… The meth-dude we encountered on the 29 was considerably more unpredictable than any drunk I’ve come across on the tube for many years…

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