binge drinking Britain, british ban on cheap liquor, mps ban cheap liquor
Martin Meissner/AP

British Parliament Moves to Ban Cheap Liquor

November 12, 2008 08:57 AM
by Isabel Cowles
In response to increased levels of binge drinking and violence, British officials have suggested a ban on happy hours and low-cost liquor sold in supermarkets.

British Officials Hope High-cost Liquor Will End Binge Drinking

A recent Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) report in the U.K. showed that violent crimes related to liquor consumption have placed an unnecessary burden on British police.

According to the document, 45 percent of violent crime victims claim their attackers were under the influence. Research also indicated that the cost of liquor has fallen dramatically in the last three decades.

Keith Vaz, chair of the HASC, asserted: “We cannot have on one hand a world of alcohol promotions for profit that fuels surges of crime and disorder, and on the other the police diverting all their resources to cope with it,” according to the Daily Telegraph.

The committee report also noted that alcohol-fueled crimes caused police forces to overextend themselves, making it impossible for authorities to meet the public’s expectation of visible policing, despite an abundance of officers.

Members of Parliament have suggested raising the cost of alcohol to end what Vaz identified as a “pile it high, sell it cheap” culture surrounding alcohol. Happy hours at bars should be targeted, as should discounted liquor sold at supermarkets, the report suggests.

Meanwhile, retailers and pub owners argue that raising liquor prices won’t curb alcohol-related social problems; rather, authorities should restrict the time alcohol is sold at pubs and supermarkets.

Previous Efforts to Curb Binge Drinking

Both British officials and private organizations have struggled to curb binge drinking during the last few years. In 2001, a UK-based crime-prevention charity, the National Association for the Care and Rehabilitation of Offenders (Nacro), sought a ban on happy-hour promotions, which encourage binges. 

According to BBC News, Nacro policy manager Dr. Marcus Roberts said binge drinking “lead[s] to acute intoxication and … [is] more strongly associated with violence than frequent but moderate drinking.” To stop such behavior, he said, “we need to give thought to how we can create a more responsible drinking culture."

In 2005, The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), which represents more than half of the nation’s pubs, banned excessively cheap alcohol sales and “irresponsible” promotions that encouraged binge drinking.

Reference: Home Affairs Committee Report

Related Topic: Brits behaving badly

Although violent crimes are often associated with male drinkers, new reports have indicated a surge in female binge drinking and violence. According to a 2008 report from the British Ministry of Justice, the occurrence of attacks by female drinkers has doubled in the last five years, and is associated with an increase in binge drinking. In 2007, 87,200 women were arrested for violent attacks.

British bachelors have earned a reputation for excessive inebriation abroad. Because of an abundance of cheap flights, many decide to travel out of the U.K. for bachelor party weekends. The Yorkshire Post reports that such trips have been marked by a rise in binge drinking, leading to increased hospitalization, arrests and lost passports among British travelers. “Such loutish behavior has not only raised concerns about how we are viewed by our European neighbors, but also the potential security implications,” the paper asserts.

Most Recent Beyond The Headlines