The Malta Independent 16 May 2022, Monday

Should drunk tanks be introduced in Malta?

Malta Independent Monday, 7 October 2013, 09:17 Last update: about 9 years ago

The potential introduction of drunk tanks, a holding cell for individuals who are intoxicated in public and unable to take care of themselves, has caused a bit of a stir in the UK of late.  The Maltese government is aware of the UK proposal and told this newspaper that it will “assess all recommendations that reduce the consequences of over drinking”.

In a study published this year by the Institute of Alcohol studies in the UK, 56% of Maltese students admitted to having consumed five or more drinks on one occasion in the past 30 days, which makes them the heaviest drinkers in Europe together with the Danes according to a 2011 survey carried out by the European School Survey Project.

Asked by The Malta Independent whether the Maltese government is considering the introduction of drunk tanks in entertainment hubs such as Paceville and Bugibba, a spokesperson for the Home Affairs Ministry said that it is “cognisant” of the developments in the UK regarding drunk tanks, and the Ministry “will assess all those recommendations that reduce consequences, some of which are tragic, that result from over-drinking.”

The tanks serve as a holding cell for individuals who are intoxicated in public and unable to take care of themselves. Its tanked up occupants are then made to pay a sobering free the following morning for their troubles.

Alcohol related admission at Mater Dei

Alcohol related admissions at Mater Dei appear to be on the rise over the past four years, but a spokesperson for the hospital said that this may be due to an increase in data capture. Last year, 217 people were admitted to Mater Dei hospital due to intoxication, but these figures do not include those patients that were seen at the A&E Dept and not admitted to Mater Dei wards.

A further 66 were admitted due to alcohol dependence or withdrawal, and 40 were admitted for liver disease due to alcohol abuse.



Category A

Category B

Category C


















                                   Source: HAA Register MDH

Category A refers to alcohol dependence or a withdrawal state due to alcohol dependence, or due to a cutting down in the amount of alcohol consumed.

Category B refers to incidence of intoxication, but the person is not dependent on alcohol

Category C refers to liver related illnesses due to alcohol abuse


‘Dignity of the person must come first’ – Caritas

Caritas, an organisation which aims to alleviate poverty and promote human development and social justice, says that drunk tanks fail to tackle the core issues behind alcohol abuse.

 “The idea of forced deterrents was never and will never be in the Caritas mission statement. Caritas believes in the dignity of the person and that substance abuse, including that of alcohol, is a symptom of the problem and that every deterrent must be focused on the person rather than the situation that the person has got into,” Anthony Girard, a social worker with the Caritas family services told The Malta Independent.

Caritas is of the belief that law enforcement should be more rigid in enforcing drinking rules, particularly when it comes to the sale of alcohol to minors.

“Fines and community service should be meted out by the Courts, and repeat abusers referred to the relevant agencies for guidance. Parents must be fully aware of the behaviour of their offspring, especially those who are still minors and try to curb abuse in this way,” the Mr Girard said.

‘Police presence in Paceville has increased’ -Ministry

Paceville sees thousands of young people visiting the area, and residents have long lamented the perceived lack of Police presence in the area.

The ministry spokesperson said that it has “met all stake-holders affected by the entertainment industry in Paceville and also meetings were held with the ministry of tourism to coordinate on a common policy in the area.”

The spokesperson pointed out that the Police presence in the area “was increased, especially during those hours when there is more activity.”

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