Police chief blasts alcohol pricing plans

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CRIME commissioners have hit out at Government alcohol pricing plans.

Ministers hope to bring in a licensing condition banning the sale of alcohol below the cost of duty plus VAT.

However, police chiefs say the plans will not do enough to curb the effects of alcohol excess, which costs the Sunderland economy £120million annually.

In a joint letter from Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird and her Durham counterpart Ron Hogg, they argue: “The consumption of cheap, strong alcohol is directly linked to crime and disorder.

“In a survey of frontline police officers in the North East, almost 100 per cent said they couldn’t remember the last time they were called to a domestic abuse incident where alcohol wasn’t involved.

“Research has shown that by introducing a minimum price, alcohol-related crimes would reduce by thousands each year, not only improving public safety and confidence, but also reducing the health impacts of alcohol.

“At the same time, the minimum unit price would not affect local pub prices and would have a marginal impact on those drinking within the recommended guidelines.

“When the new Government order was discussed earlier this week in the House of Lords, members were told that while the minimum unit pricing was still under consideration, it would not be taken forward at the present time. While we are pleased the minimum unit pricing is still under consideration and that the Government is taking steps to alleviate the problems caused by alcohol, this really is an opportunity lost.”

North East alcohol office Balance also say the Government is failing to get to grips with the issue.

Director Colin Shevills, said: “There is no evidence base to support a ban on sales of alcohol at below cost, and it will have very little effect on the price of alcohol – particularly the products which cause the most damage to young and heavy drinkers, such as white cider and cheap vodka.

“It basically gives the alcohol industry the go-ahead to give alcohol away, provided they collect duty and VAT.”