City Marshals and Teenage Decoys to Fight Drink Culture
Ben Russell Political Correspondent, The Independent (London, England)
ACTION TO clamp down on underage drinking and drunken late-night rowdiness will be unveiled today as part of a campaign to combat Britain's alcohol culture. City-centre marshals, curbs on alcohol advertising, new warnings to consumers and even teenage decoys are being considered to help reduce drink-related problems of health and violence estimated to cost the taxpayer pounds 20bn a year.
Health warnings on bottles, new guidelines on safe levels of consumption and a review of advertising to stop "sexy" images of alcohol encouraging underage and binge-drinking will be proposed by the four-year Government review, set up to reduce the impact of alcohol.
The National Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy, drawn up by the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit, will also highlight measures to cut down on drink-related disorder, including schemes such as one in Manchester where council wardens have cut crime by patrolling late- night bus stops and taxi ranks at closing time.
The warnings come after leaked documents warned of increasing drink-related violence. Government figures suggest that alcohol produces 1.2 million incidents of violence each year, while 360,000 cases of domestic violence are drink-related.
Ministers insist they want to co-operate with the drinks industry but Government sources indicated that measures such as charging pubs for policing and introducing compulsory health warnings could form part of a "carrot and stick" approach if self-regulation fails.
Under the proposals, bottles could carry warnings about the number of units of alcohol, or could feature US-style health warnings or other messages designed to cut excessive drinking. …