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Top police body backs minimum alcohol pricing

Published:  03 July, 2012

The UK's top police body has lent its support to minimum pricing 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 announcement at a conference on alcohol licensing in Durham.

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."

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.

"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."

Balance, the North East Alcohol Office and the North East Strategic Licensing Group organised today's (July 3) Tackling Alcohol in our Communities conference to discuss new licensing powers.

The conference included speakers from Balance, the Home Office, the Association of North East Councils (ANEC) and Alcohol Focus Scotland.