Out of control drunks should be left in privately run 'tanks' until they behave, according to a top cop.
Revellers would then be charged for their care the following morning when they emerge with a sore head.
Chief Constable Adrian Lee, the national policing lead on alcohol harm, said the drastic measure would reduce soaring levels of booze-fuelled disorder.
The cells would be run by a commercial company.
Launching a campaign aimed at highlighting alcohol harm, Lee, the head of Northamptonshire Police, said the police service should no longer have to be responsible for the increasing number of revellers who require medical treatment due to excess drinking.
'Send him to the tank'
He said: "I do not see why the police service or the health service should pick up the duty of care for someone who has chosen to go out and get so drunk that they cannot look after themselves.
"So why don't we take them to a drunk cell owned by a commercial company and get the commercial company to look after them during the night until they are sober?
"When that is over we will issue them with a fixed penalty and the company will be able to charge them for their care, which would be at quite significant cost and that might be a significant deterrent."
Lee is not the first to suggest introducing drunk tanks in the UK, with Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Matthew Grove recently mooting the idea in an interview with trade journal Police Professional.
And it follows proposals for increased privatisation of the police service by way of sponsorship - floated earlier this year by Dorset PCC Martyn Underhill.
Lee continued: "We are not the experts on health. It is quite difficult to work out where the best place to put a drunk is. Is it a police station, or do they need to be at a hospital?
"It is a big demand on police but also not the best way of looking after the specific complex duty of care where there is a health demand.
"Accident and emergency departments are under huge pressure nationally, particularly on a Friday and Saturday nights.
"Why should we have drunks clogging up the A&E, causing further problems potentially? Why not put them somewhere safe where you could have private medical staff on hand?"
At the same briefing, Sir Hugh Orde, President of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said intoxicated individuals are "very high risk" and need to be checked every 15 to 30 minutes.
Lee also said he was disappointed no licensing authorities had imposed late-night levies - an additional charge for late-opening alcohol suppliers designed to contribute towards policing the night-time economy.
And he also criticised the Government for failing to implement the minimum price for a unit of alcohol in England and Wales.
The Government shelved the plans in July amid fears the change would hit responsible drinkers.
Crime prevention minister Jeremy Browne said: "I welcome this campaign to raise awareness of the impact of alcohol-fuelled crime, which costs around £11 billion a year in England and Wales.
"Frontline police officers are all too aware of the drunken behaviour and alcohol-fuelled disorder that can effectively turn towns and cities into no-go areas for law-abiding people, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights."