This year's Gig Weekend saw issues around the 'persistent sale of alcohol to those who are already intoxicated' as well as a worsening of the binge drinking culture on Scilly.
Photo by Alan Holwill
A report by Isles of Scilly Police from the weekend said that May's event saw 'several nasty incidents' including two non-drug drink spikings.
The police report formed part of the Isles of Scilly Drug and Alcohol Needs Review Report 2017, which was presented at today's meeting of the Health & Wellbeing Board by Dr Caroline Court, Cornwall Council’s Acting Director of Public Health.
The Needs Review document said that culturally for Scilly, Gig Weekend is "a significant event, it is very important economically and in terms of tourist profile". However, it added: "Health Services have raised concerns about ability to cope with this large event expected to bring 7,000 additional people to the islands for one weekend in May."
It went on to quote the police report from Gig Weekend, which read: "Several referrals have been made to Addaction. The overwhelming theme was the persistent sale of alcohol to those who are already intoxicated and the unrelenting binge drinking culture present on the islands which came to the fore on Gig Weekend with several nasty incidents one of which is still under investigation. We have also had two drink spikings which will be alcohol loading not drug contamination.
"A local GP who was called out to the police station re those in custody on gig weekend likened it to the “zombie apocalypse” and the “night of the living dead.
"There is concern from the police and council around a particular licensed premises and the nuisance being caused to local residents by drunken clients coming outside to smoke, as well as the noise and the drunken ASB [Anti-social behaviour] as they quit the premises and filter through the town often on their way to after-parties.
"Police conduct patrols and use powers under the DPPO [designated public place order] where possible but often end up displacing the problem. On the Sunday night of Gig Weekend the demand on policing resources was overwhelming and this was purely down to alcohol related violence."
The report went on: "Anti-social behaviour appears to be an issue, especially in and around Hughtown’s pub premises, and reaches a zenith during Gig Weekend, when behaviour associated with excessive drinking impacts on medical and emergency services to a degree of saturation.
"Planning, preparation and delivery of emergency responses during Gig Weekend form a significant burden of concern for the parties involved. icensing is extended to almost 24 hour opening times for pubs and all services are on red alert for incidences."
In the discussion following the presentation of the Drug and Alcohol Needs Assessment, Lead Member for Adults Dr Adrian Davis said: "I know that Gig Weekend is an exception but it does spill over the rest of the holiday period. When you hear that police are overwhelmed and medical services saturated I think it’s high time we should perhaps be a little bit more proactive and perhaps be unpopular.
"I know the local police have recently had a meeting with the licensing committee and commendably make the point about not trying to be unpopular and being spoilsports and people needing to enjoy the holiday, but perhaps sensible drinking should be to the fore of our efforts because things are getting worse and it’s causing a lot of illness, it affects the crime figures, it has an effect everywhere. I think… it’s high time we should get involved."
There are 70 licensed premises on the islands, a concentration similar to Newquay.