Public sector staff demand stricter crackdown on alcohol

Frontline public sector workers have called for stricter controls on alcohol sales and promotions to discourage excessive drinking.


More than three-quarters of 1,000 teachers, nurses, doctors, police and public health consultants surveyed said the government should prevent pubs, bars and clubs from running price promotions that encouraged excessive drinking.


Smaller measures


Meanwhile, 94% said customers should always be able to buy alcohol in smaller measures, such as 125ml glasses of wine, according to the joint report from Alcohol Concern, the UK Faculty of Public Health (FPH), the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), and the Royal College of Physicians.


In addition, 94% said information on total units per drink should always be provided wherever alcohol is sold, and 96% thought all premises selling alcohol should operate a proof-of-age scheme.


The survey was carried out in response to the Home Office’s proposed code for alcohol sales, Safe, Sensible, Social: Selling Alcohol Responsibly, which closes for consultation today.


Clampdown on all you can drink promotions


The code, published in May, outlines “mandatory conditions” including the prevention of “irresponsible” promotions, such as “all you can drink for £10”, and a requirement that the smallest standard measures be made available to prevent the automatic selling of doubles or large glasses of wine.


Alcohol Concern chief executive Don Shenker said frontline public sector workers had “had enough of government policy that appeases the alcohol industry instead of directly tackling problems”.


‘National disgrace’


RCN chief executive Peter Carter said alcohol misuse was “our national disgrace”, and said nurses saw the “devastating effect that alcohol has in blighting the lives of young and old alike”.


And from FPH president Professor Alan Maryon-Davis came a warning of the “huge burden” on public services caused by cheap drink.


“Government must act… to ease the pressure on resources,” he said. “If not, the battle is going to get even tougher – and the costs will rise even higher.”


Violent crime


A fifth of all violent crime occurs in and around licensed premises, according to the 2006/07 British Crime Survey, while 70% of weekend attendances at accident and emergency departments between midnight and 5am may be alcohol related.


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