Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland Barry Coppinger has criticised the Government’s u-turn on a minimum price for a unit of alcohol saying it “flies in the face” of work taking place across the region to reduce alcohol-related crime and antisocial behaviour.
The Government announced this week (Wednesday 17th) that it had dropped plans to introduce the measure, which is proven to save lives, cut crime and reduce hospital admissions.
Instead Minister Jeremy Browne introduced a ban on the sale of alcohol below the price of duty plus VAT – a measure 50 times less effective than a minimum price set at 45p per unit, according to independent experts from Sheffield University.
New research published by the University of Sheffield demonstrates that banning below cost selling will have very little impact on alcohol consumption. It will reduce overall consumption by 0.04% (less than half a pint of beer, per drinker per year) and will affect just 1.3% of all alcohol unit sold.
Under the new policy, the average price of alcohol sold by supermarkets would be expected to rise by just 0.1%. For example, beers at 4% ABV could still be sold for 40p per 440ml can, a 700ml bottle of spirits at 40% for £9.49 and a two litre bottle of strong cider at 7.5% for as little as £1.43.
PCC for Cleveland, Barry Coppinger, said: “This decision has been made by ministers who don’t have to live with the detrimental consequences of alcohol fuelled crime and antisocial behaviour.
“The u-turn by the Government goes against promises made centrally in the 2012 National Alcohol Strategy and flies in the face of work on the ground to reduce the impact of the damaging effects of alcohol misuse.
“The fact you can get a can of lager for less than a soft drink in some stores speaks volumes of the power that the alcohol industry has and ministers have succumbed to this power, letting millions of vulnerable people down in the process.
“Time and time again police officers and health professionals are faced with people causing violent crime, domestic abuse, disturbances and who have received injuries where the crux of the problem is alcohol.
“The introduction of a minimum unit price – akin to the policies discussed last year - would have gone some way to preventing future generations in the north east from experiencing the problems we currently have in the region, such as the highest rate of under 18 hospital admissions and the highest rate of alcohol related liver disease.
“It would have also gone some distance to ease the demand on police forces nationally, who are facing an uphill battle to tackle alcohol related crime in the wake of cuts announcements.
“Despite this Government climb down, there is some excellent work taking place across Cleveland and the wider region and I will continue to work alongside police and partner agencies who are tasked with the extremely difficult job of managing the effects of inappropriate alcohol consumption.
Posted on Friday 19th July 2013