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Alcohol-fuelled disorder costs every home

Alcohol-fuelled crime and disorder is costing every household almost £600 a year as the true impact of the country’s drink problem is exposed for the first time.

Coping with the effects of drunken rowdiness and offending, including policing, health care and loss of earnings, leaves England and Wales with an annual bill of up to £13 billion, or £400 every second, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

It is a result of around one million violent offences that are linked with abuse of alcohol every year.

The estimate, the first of its kind drawn up by the Home Office, will add to concerns that binge-drinking, around the clock licensing and the growth of a “ladette” culture is having a direct impact on communities and public services.

Earlier this month, Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, warned that people are too scared to walk Britain’s streets at night because of “drunken yobbery” and the risk of becoming a victim of “gratuitous violence”.

The cost of alcohol-related crime and disorder centres on the impact such incidents have on all aspects of society from preventive measures to dealing with the aftermath.

It incorporates the cost of the anticipation” of crime such as awareness campaigns or extra security at night, the cost to the criminal justice system, the health service and dealing with victims.

It also estimates loss of earnings to the economy such as victims being off work or offenders unable to work because they are in court or jail.

It is the first time the Home Office has calculated the impact of alcohol-fuelled in such a way and said drunken disorder cost England and Wales between £8-£13 billion in 2007/08.

That is the equivalent of £590 for each of the 22 million households in England and Wales.

The official British Crime Survey estimates half of all violent offences are linked to alcohol – the equivalent of one million crimes each year.

Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, said: “Britain’s communites are paying a heavy price for the Government’s binge drinking culture.

“The proliferation of cheap off-licences and of late-night drinking licences is causing real problems in our towns and cities, which are in the grip of a near-epidemic of disorder and antisocial behaviour.”

Matthew Elliott, chief executive at the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “The Government should pull the stops out to bring the cost of alcohol related crime and disorder down, but it needs to be careful not to penalise sensible drinkers in the process.

“Responsible drinking in local pubs has been a cornerstone of British society for centuries. Binge drinkers who wreak havoc should be targeted when they harm the well being of others, and cost taxpayers billions, but a proportionate response is the best way forward.”

In September it emerged that fewer drunk offenders than ever are being punished in the courts following the introduction of 24-hour drinking.

Convictions are 80 per cent lower than they were a generation ago, while the number escaping with on-the-spot fines is soaring.

There are also increasing concerns over the level of alcohol abuse among women. In June figures showed the number of females involved in alcohol-related trouble has increased by almost a third in two years.

On-the-spot fines handed out to women for being drunk and disorderly rose by 30 per cent, with the rate of fines is increasing faster than for men.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Alcohol-related violent crime has fallen by a third since 1997 and we are continuing to take robust action to tackle alcohol harm. We have introduced Drink Banning Orders and are implementing a tough new mandatory code of practice to crack down on irresponsible sales and promotions of alcohol.

“The Policing and Crime Act will give police tougher powers to deal with underage drinking and our Know Your Limits campaign challenges attitudes towards drinking with a view to changing people’s behaviour and reducing alcohol harms in the long term.”

source: The Telegraph

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