Friday, November 28, 2008
By LUKE SALKELD
Itsh not their fault, you shee. Itsh the shoesh.
Drunk women who stagger about in high heels are to be protected - at public expense - from twisting their ankles.
They will be handed flip-flops to wear by police outside nightclubs as they wend their way home.
The scheme is part of a £30,000 drive by police and councillors to prevent 'alcohol-related harm'.
Superintendent Chris Singer poses with two pairs of flip-flops. As part of a £30,000 health and safety scheme, flip-flops are to be given free to drunk women to prevent injuries on their walk home
It has been prompted by fears that women wearing stilettos or similar footwear could tumble over.
Officials also claim that female revellers are at risk of cutting the soles of their feet by walking barefoot.
The flip-flops will be given to anyone whose footwear is 'uncomfortable, inappropriate or soiled' and will be paid for with a Home Office grant.
The scheme is to begin next month in the centre of Torquay, Devon, a popular destination for hen and stag parties. It will be run by Safer Communities Torbay, a partnership between police, Torbay Council and the Local Education Authority.
Police officers will carry bags of coloured flip-flops on their rounds and will hand them to those who look unsteady on their feet.
Off balance: Drunk women will be handed flip-flops outside clubs
The rubber shoes, which carry printed messages about safe drinking, will also be available free from the council's 'Safe Bus' on the harbourside.
The force has already been handing out condoms and sexual health advice to revellers, and ordered drunken men who urinate in the street to clean up their own mess with a mop and bucket.
Inspector Adrian Leisk, from Safer Communities Torbay, said: 'Sometimes people get drunk and you see them carrying footwear which is inappropriate.
'The emphasis is on providing replacement footwear for people to get home in, should they find their footwear uncomfortable, inappropriate or soiled.
'We have consulted with people who work on our night-time economy areas and this is just one of a number of measures designed to keep people safe.'
The initiative has attracted criticism from campaigners, who said it was a waste of money and police time. Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: 'This is an idiotic waste of money.
'People don't pay their taxes for drunk women to get free flip flops. They want the police to fight crime.
'The police aren't there to be an emergency supply of flat shoes.'
But the potential recipients seemed quite pleased yesterday at the prospect of a free pair of flops.
Danielle Bolton, 19, who was out in Torquay, said: 'My heels hurt me at the end of the night so I tend to take them off.
'It's a hell of a lot easier to walk with flip-flops than high heels.'
Leanne Thomas, 21, added: 'I go out clubbing at the harbourside most weekends and I usually walk home barefooted because my heels hurt. I think it's a great idea.'
The £30,000 will cover the cost of free condoms, rape alarms and personal safety information which will also be available on the Safe Bus.
Superintendent Chris Singer, Torbay Police Commander, said: 'Linking in with our partners, this funding represents a significant opportunity to make a real difference in relation to alcohol related harm and disorder.
'We're hopeful that this new initiative will help protect dozens of women who are vulnerable to injury after a night out with friends.'