When you think how much time is spent working with drunks and people with a host of issues, you would think we would be quite good at spotting those officers with the same problems. I've obviously worked with people who like a good drink, but have never been able to see when the alcohol and work thing has gone too far.
I should know better having come from the army with a massive peer group drinking culture. In that environment the pressure to consume and hold your drink was immense. Every night would involve massive drinking sessions and I rarely took to my bed without the ceiling spinning. Of course returning to the UK on leave meant I could show off my new found drinking capacity. It was stupid considering the drinking culture continued on exercise and we were in charge of some dangerous kit. I used to rebel against this by going on fitness drives, and keeping out of the bar for 6 week periods especially when I started getting the shakes. I still keep in touch with my old comrades on specialised army reunion sites. Many who stayed in for the full term make no secret of their alcohol problems.
I can't speak for the CID but my general feel is that we in the uniformed police have moved away from a drinking culture. The days of the team drink after early turn are gone but I have heard of a few brave souls who manage to get out straight after their last night shift for an early morning session. As a supervisor I tend to keep clear just in case some inappropriate conduct from others gets me in the shite. I'm a firm believer in police, drink and the public not mixing unless it's a tried and tested establishment.
I do miss going to the police local where we had one side of the bar and the general public had the other. It worked well and the landlord (old fashioned pub) did very well out of the arrangement. Shift pattern changes and people travelling from further a field really saw the impromptu drink consigned to history.
I don't know what people get up to in their own time. A few of the single officers who lived in police accommodation were of course at risk of getting caught up in a drinking culture similar to me in the army. I don't know where a good drink becomes a drink problem and then alcoholism.
I bumped into a friend the other day who has had his problems with drink. He was an ex squaddie and never really got out of that lifestyle. His problems were known to the job who didn't really know what to do so they did nothing. He was working in the CID environment at the time and I wonder if that was the reason. It wasn't until he nearly lost his job that he started to sort himself out. He is now dry, attends AA meetings and is doing well in his job, a specialised role. He is helping out as a mentor to those with alcohol issues within the job and told me of the stigma attached to alcoholism.
Under the new misconduct regulations he would have been dismissed from the job, without any doubt. They would have lost a good police officer. I do wonder if every case should be treated on it's merits with regards to those with obvious alcohol problems that exist within this job, where people have missed or ignored it. Of course ultimately the person concerned has a responsibility to seek help too.
Loved The Choirboys film and this scene a good example of a team drink going wrong !!! It was made in the 70's so excuse the obvious stereotyping of both police officer and gay member of the public!