ZURICH -- Where does the responsibility of the municipality end and personal responsibility begin? A flare-up erupted around that issue at a recent meeting of the Zurich City Councils Health Commission.
The catalyst was the sobering-up facility at the Urania police station, popularly known as the Boozers Hotel, which has special cells where drunks can bed down for the night. The City Council wants to continue with the facility, which began as a pilot project two years ago. The 13-person Commission agrees, but not on who should pay for staying there the city or the severly inebriated people dropped off their by police.
According to two independent sources present at the meeting, socialist and green Commission members want the city to pay. From their point of view, fall-down drunks are sick people who shouldnt be punished. Leftists also used the opportunity to try and clear up a discrepancy in existing practice. Right now, drunks delivered to the Boozers Hotel have to pay between 650 and 950 Swiss francs ($700-$1,000) for disorderly conduct and/or endangering themselves or others. But those brought to other police stations to sleep it off arent charged. In both cases, any medical expenses are picked up by the individuals health insurance policy (mandatory in Switzerland).
A centrist Christian Democrat member of the Commission has now drafted a motion to be put before the City Council that all drunks, regardless of which police station they are left in to sleep it off, be charged the same amount.
Last year, approximately 500 people, mostly men aged 18 to 40, were delivered to the Boozers Hotel, which costs around 330,000 Swiss francs per year to operate. For 98% of those spending the night, the experience was a one-off. Although getting paid for the stays proved somewhat difficult at first, the police department says things have now improved.
The cost of giving drunks a place to spend the night would add an estimated 500,000 Swiss francs ($545,000) to the city's annual budget.
Read the full story in German by Stefan Häne
Photo Nurse Kate
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