People who admit being drunk and disorderly can attend a £45 course rather than pay a £90 fine.

West Sussex residents will have the opportunity to attend the Alcohol Diversion Scheme – similar to a speed awareness course but aimed at tackling alcohol abuse – if they are arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly and admit the offence.

A similar scheme already runs in Brighton and Hove and is successful.

The scheme has been rolled out in West Sussex and is being supported by Sussex Police, West Sussex County Council, Pub Watch Schemes and Community Safety Partnerships.

The agencies will also work with charity Druglink.

Similar schemes are run in Derbyshire, Devon and Cornwall.

Chief Inspector Tanya Jones, who is leading on the project, said: “In other forces they have been a significant reduction in attendees becoming victims or perpetrators of violent crime, and a dramatic decrease in accident and emergency admissions.

"The course is hard hitting - it contains information about the damage which can be caused by binge drinking and offers the opportunity for people to really reflect on the risks around their behaviour.

“There is a clear link between alcohol consumption and anti-social behaviour, which officers see everyday and this scheme sees us working with our partners to help people who are offered the course assess their behaviour.”

This initiative is not targeted at those with serious substance misuse problems as we know a three hour course may not be suitable in these cases where, instead, we already work with our partners to provide a range of services for these people.

West Sussex County Council abinet member for community wellbeing, Christine Field said: “It provides a chance for people to assess their drinking and the impact it is having not only on their life, but on those around them. The very fact they will have been invited to participate in this scheme will be an indication that their alcohol use is causing problems.

Karen Methven, from Crawley and Gatwick Business Watch, said: “We will, for certain offences, offer the opportunity to downgrade the six-month PubWatch exclusion to a probationary period, if they attend a Drugslink session.”