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alcohol health alliance uk

National police body announces support for minimum unit price

Posted 03/07/12

The country’s top police body has today (Tuesday, July 3) publically backed a minimum unit price for alcohol for the first time.

Jon Stoddart, Chief Constable of County Durham Constabulary and alcohol lead for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), made the official announcement at a high profile conference on alcohol licensing.

Delegates also heard that alcohol misuse is costing the region’s crime and licensing authorities more than £300 million a year.

Mr Stoddart said: “Alcohol misuse ruins lives. Half of all violent crime is linked to alcohol and more than a third of domestic abuse cases involve it. Dealing with the damage done is costing police forces across England dearly, it is the main reason for overtime.

“The evidence shows that the introduction of a minimum unit price for alcohol would have a major impact on reducing not only crime but deaths, hospital admissions and absenteeism.

“It is common sense that ACPO backs this measure, which Balance has been consistently calling for over the last few years. It’s also common sense that we’d make this announcement here – where alcohol misuse is having the greatest impact. Coupled with greater powers to regulate the availability of alcohol through licensing, a minimum unit price will help reduce crime and save lives.”

Balance, the North East Alcohol Office and the North East Strategic Licensing Group organised today’s (Tuesday, July 3) Tackling Alcohol in our Communities conference to discuss new licensing powers to deal with problems faced by police and other organisations responsible for community safety.

Speaker Dr Evelyn Gillan, Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, shared her experiences of using licensing arrangements to control the availability of alcohol.

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “ACPO’s support further confirms the importance of introducing a minimum unit price for alcohol. While we have relatively low crime rates, the annual cost of alcohol related crime and licensing in the North East is estimated to be a staggering £316 million.

“Although the introduction of a minimum unit price is instrumental in turning back the tide of alcohol misuse, we also need to consider measures which reduce the availability of alcohol – which is what today’s conference is all about.

“Alcohol is available 24/7, 365 days a year on almost every corner. We know that the more available it is, the more we consume and we’re paying the price in the North East. We have the highest rate of alcohol related hospital admissions in England and the highest rate of under 18s in treatment.

“It’s no coincidence that we also have more off licence premises per head of population than most other English regions, considerably more than we did 20 years ago. Research shows that the number of places selling alcohol is directly linked to the number of violent assaults in that area. We need to make alcohol less available.”

The conference, which took place at Ramside Hall Hotel in Durham, featured presentations from Balance, the Home Office, the Association of North East Councils (ANEC) and Alcohol Focus Scotland.