Plea to Home Secretary over impact of cheap drink on policing

Barry Coppinger Cleveland Police Crime Commissioner.  Picture by FRANK REID
Barry Coppinger Cleveland Police Crime Commissioner. Picture by FRANK REID

Cleveland and Durham’s Police and Crime Commissioners are calling on the Home Secretary to step in over the impact of cheap alcohol.

Concerns have again been raised relating to the damage that cheap alcohol is causing in the North East and the increasing pressure it puts on our policing services.

The three North East PCCs, Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner, Barry Coppinger, Durham’s Ron Hogg and Northumbria’s Dame Vera Baird, have collaboratively penned a letter to the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, calling on the Government to follow Scotland’s innovative lead and introduce Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) for alcohol in England.

Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, reports that there were an estimated 239,000 alcohol related crimes in the region in 2015/16, costing the economy £331 million.

Research by Sheffield University estimates that in its first five years, a MUP of 50p would prevent 182,000 crimes, producing a saving of £711 million.

In the North East, it would prevent 11,000 crimes and save £66million – and these are likely to be conservative estimates.

Durham Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner, Ron Hogg said: “Our police officers are experiencing the brunt of this problem on a daily basis.

“A survey of North East frontline officers in 2013 revealed that over half believe that alcohol related crime takes up at least half their workload, while 86 per cent have been subjected to an alcohol related assault.

“It is time to take a new approach and start to tackle this issue. ”

Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner, Barry Coppinger said: “Whilst we recognise that MUP is not the magic fix all solution, we believe that by increasing the price of the cheapest alcohol products consumed by the heaviest drinkers we will be targeting those individuals who cause our forces the greatest problems.”

The call was also backed by Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC said: “We are urging the Government not to delay the introduction of MUP.

“The poorest and most vulnerable in society suffer disproportionately from the harms caused by cheap alcohol.

“MUP would contribute significantly social justice, with around 80% of the lives saved coming from routine and manual worker groups.”