Violence scarred celebrations and led to a bloody New Year across the country as emergency services endured a chaotic end to 2008.Why is it people are (apparently) increasingly unable to control themselves in public? And not just that, but apparently unashamed to get themselves into this condition in the first place...
Ambulance control centres reported receiving 999 calls as often as once every seven seconds - the second highest volume of calls since the Millennium - as binge drinkers turned nasty in the freezing temperatures.
Many of the calls related either to alcohol-fuelled assaults or excessive drunkenness.
Elsewhere, while large numbers were ferried to hospitals, in some areas injuries were treated by paramedics in 'booze buses' to leave ambulances free for more serious emergencies.So, why did Kent have spare space on New Year’s Eve, and Essex didn’t..? It can’t just be sheer demographics, can it?
In Essex, so many drunk people were arrested that all 200 of the constabulary's cells were filled, and overflow revellers had to be shipped to neighbouring Kent to be held for the night.
Attacks on other emergency services are becoming commonplace too:
In one of the most disturbing incidents an ambulance was wrecked by callous thugs while parked outside the home of a sick baby boy in Tilehurst, Reading.Just before Christmas, waiting in a queue at traffic lights, I see a fire engine weaving it’s way in and out of traffic on the opposite side of the road, drivers making way for it as best they could. The lights for my side went to green, and the car in front pulled forward and to the side and put his hazards on while he waited to see which way the fire engine was going to go. I put mine on and stayed where I was, as did the car behind me. The car behind him decided not to wait, pulled out onto the other side of the road, overtook all three of us, and weaved in front of the fire engine just as it was turning, luckily (for the call they were on) missing him.
He eventually had to be sped to hospital in his family's own car.
No doubt they are used to such displays of sheer callousness and impatience, but it’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen. I’d hate to think it was becoming more commonplace, but I wonder...
British Transport Police spokesman Superintendent Brian Pearce - whose colleagues helped control the huge crowds gathered for fireworks by the Thames, said: 'The nature of New Year's Eve in central London has changed. What used to be a relatively low-key, spontaneous night is now a world-class event that attracts thousands and thousands of people.A ‘world-class event’...? In what – vomiting?
'Such large crowds create a challenging policing environment. In the main the crowds were good humoured.'
And why should it need to be noted that the crowd were ‘good humoured’ in the main? Shouldn't that be what is expected of people? Instead, it now seems to be odd enough to be remarked upon...