Boozy Britain's bloody New Year: A 999 call every seven seconds in alcohol-induced mayhem
By Neil Sears
Last updated at 9:09 AM on 02nd January 2009
Violence scarred celebrations and led to a bloody New Year across the country as emergency services endured a chaotic end to 2008.
Ambulance control centres reported receiving 999 calls as often as once every seven seconds - the second highest volume of calls since the Millennium - as binge drinkers turned nasty in the freezing temperatures.
Many of the calls related either to alcohol-fuelled assaults or excessive drunkenness.
Bloodbath: A victim of a bottle attack at a club in North London
Booze contributed to time-wasting calls to 999 operators too, with one man calling to ask if New York was in America, and what time it was there.
Elsewhere, while large numbers were ferried to hospitals, in some areas injuries were treated by paramedics in 'booze buses' to leave ambulances free for more serious emergencies.
In Essex, so many drunk people were arrested that all 200 of the constabulary's cells were filled, and overflow revellers had to be shipped to neighbouring Kent to be held for the night.
A huge brawl at a social club in Loughton, Essex, meant 600 rowdy revellers had to be dispersed, with two arrested for attempted murder after a 47-year-old man was stabbed in the eye and back.
Officers stop and question a drunken male about his facial injuries in Newcastle
In Wales, a 999 call led to tragedy when an ambulance speeding its way to an emergency ran over and killed reveller Jason Hawkes, 23, as he stood in the road outside a pub in Beddau-near Cardiff.
In one of the most disturbing incidents an ambulance was wrecked by callous thugs while parked outside the home of a sick baby boy in Tilehurst, Reading.
He eventually had to be sped to hospital in his family's own car.
Mother-of-two Jemma Dromgoole, 22, had found her son Ryan, 19 months, screaming in pain with a limp arm at teatime on New Year's Eve.
Miss Dromgoole said: 'We thought that he had dislocated his shoulder or something even worse. He was so distressed I had to call 999.
Sick and sorry: The binge catches up with this girl
This sequence of pictures shows a reveller having a rest on the pavement in Newcastle city centre
With her shoes off, she at one point places her hand in her mouth
A bystander chats to the woman before, cigarette in hand, she contemplates the evening
'The ambulance was here within five minutes and they quickly decided to take him to hospital because he would not let them near him.
'When we got outside one of the paramedics made a dash for the ambulance. He said he saw a kid on a bike and then told us the ambulance had been put out of action by vandals.
'He asked if we could go in my partner's car to the hospital. What kind of person does that to an ambulance? It's sickening.'
Partygoers stumble as they make their way in Newcastle city centre
Dressed up for the night, two women pass through a scanner to enter an area in Broad Street, Birmingham
The attackers had smashed the windows, ripped out wiring and stolen the navigation and communication system as the vehicle was parked with its blue lights flashing.
Ryan was later sent home without the need for surgery. It was believed he might have twisted his arm while playing.
The reports of a 999 call every seven seconds came from the London Ambulance Service.
A Newcastle reveller shows his facial wounds to a PC
In the early hours of this morning, officers arrest this reveller in Norwich
Last year the problem was even worse but then it was nowhere near as cold, with far more revellers out on the streets.
Spokesman Alistair Drummond said: 'The high volume of calls on New Year's Eve put the service under increased pressure.
'It made it harder for us to ensure we respond quickly to other patients with potentially life-threatening emergencies.
'People should not be drinking so much that they wake up in hospital.
'We would urge them to think more carefully about the consequences of drinking so that they can enjoy the start of 2009 safely and responsibly.'
Violent incidents in the capital included a bloody fight at the Gilgamesh Party in Chalk Farm, where a man was left drenched in blood after allegedly being hit with a bottle.
His injuries were not life threatening. .
The hangover starts here: A partygoer collapses in the street
British Transport Police spokesman Superintendent Brian Pearce - whose colleagues helped control the huge crowds gathered for fireworks by the Thames, said: 'The nature of New Year's Eve in central London has changed. What used to be a relatively low-key, spontaneous night is now a world-class event that attracts thousands and thousands of people.
'Such large crowds create a challenging policing environment. In the main the crowds were good humoured.'
There were 13 'booze buses' or field hospitals specially set up around the capital to deal with minor injuries on the spot.
The West Midlands Ambulance Service received a call once every 12 seconds in the first five hours of 2009 - most alcohol related, and dozens of them inappropriate, including the man asking whether New York was in America.
Fighting in Newcastle upon Tyne left police and paramedics dealing with a number of bloodied young men.
The aftermath of the excessive night of celebrations is likely to add to the huge numbers of workers expected to phone in sick today.
An young woman helps a friend who has almost certainly had too much to drink
According to the Federation of Small Businesses, it will be 'No Show Friday' because many employees will seek to extend their festive break into the weekend rather than bother turning up for work.
Spokesman Stephen Alambritis said: 'It's bleak and freezing, and after the celebrations for New Year's Eve run into New Year's Day, we believe there will be record absences from work.
A stunning image of Big Ben as fireworks light up the London skyline
• Two thirds of us planned to stay at home on New Year's Eve, to save money in the credit crunch. A survey of more than 2,000 adults by Post Office home insurance found only one in eight planned to go to a pub or club. How many changed their mind at the last minute is not known.
• An estimated 700,000 revellers braved freezing temperatures to see in 2009 on the streets of central London. Some 3,300 police officers were on duty to control the crowds. They made 103 arrests including 20 for assault, ten for drunkenness and five each for drugs and robbery.
A street cleaner starts to remove the rubbish in Central London