Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Paying a High Price for Cheap Alcohol; Report Reveals Cost of Crime Related to Drink

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Paying a High Price for Cheap Alcohol; Report Reveals Cost of Crime Related to Drink

Article excerpt

Byline: Helen Rae Health Reporter? 0191 201 6269 ?

MORE than 80% of police officers in the North East say they have been subjected to a drink-related assault during their career, a new report has revealed.

The latest findings from Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, showed that in 2010/11 a staggering PS159.6m was spent by Northumbria police on dealing with 112,545 alcohol-related crimes, while Durham police forked out PS75.1m on 41,053 incidents.

The findings are from a Balance report, The Impact of Alcohol on Policing in the North East, which surveyed 1,100 frontline officers to assess alcohol's impact on emergency services.

One in five officers said that they had been assaulted six or more times in their career and it was established new recruits are warned that they are likely to be the victim of an alcohol-fuelled assault before the end of their first year in the job.

Last night, anti-alcohol campaigners blamed the high number of incidents on cheap drink and urged the Government to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird, said: "While crime rates are falling in the three force areas in the North East, the link between cheap alcohol and crime and disorder is undeniable.

"We have to deal with problems relating to alcohol on a daily basis and our officers see first-hand the major impact that this is having on individuals and our communities - as well as the personal risk to our officers.

"Almost nine in 10 officers said that they believe cheap alcohol attributes to alcohol related crime and disorder. This needs to change."

Findings from The Impact of Alcohol on Policing report showed that 97% of officers feel at risk of physical assault when working in the evening.

As many as six in 10 of the officers surveyed said dealing with alcohol-related crime and disorder takes up at least half of their workload, while one in 10 say it takes up 80% to 100% of their time.

Officers have reported having to deal with children as young as 11 causing a disturbance due to alcohol intoxication and, on a weekend shift, nearly every person arrested has consumed alcohol. …

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