Alcohol and drug use have become more than a problem in Britain. Some say there is now a crisis….
By Richard Edwards, Crime Correspondent
The Telegraph, London
A damning Home Affairs Select Committee report said that alcohol-related disorder was placing a “heavy burden” on police and diverting officers from fighting serious crime.
Police chiefs blame the Government’s decision to relax licensing laws, drinks promotions in pubs and clubs, and the cheap availability of alcohol in supermarkets and off licences, it said.
The report also criticised Whitehall-imposed targets for distorting police priorities, leading them to focus on “trivial misdemeanours” and meaning that forces across the country were “hitting their targets but missing the point”.
Opposition leaders said that the findings exposed the Government’s “reckless” approach to 24-hour drinking laws and a top down target-driven agenda that has proved “an expensive disaster”.
The report, “Policing in the 21st century”, unveiled the strain that alcohol-related violence had put on police resources.
In Devon and Cornwall, Chief Constable Stephen Otter said there has been a “fairly significant increase in the proportion of violent crime where we can be absolutely sure there is an alcohol-related aspect” in the past four years.
The committee called for a ban on selling alcohol as a loss leader and the setting of a minimum price for all drinks.
Chairman Keith Vaz said: “We cannot have on one hand a world of alcohol promotions for profit that fuels surges of crime and disorder, and on the other the police diverting all their resources to cope with it.”
The report cited research that found 45 per cent of victims of violence described their assailant as being under the influence of alcohol.
There has also been an increase in trouble in suburban areas, because people are drinking locally at weekends, where pubs now stay open later, rather than paying the cab fare and entry fees of pubs in town centres.