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Higher alcohol prices linked with violence drop

An increase in alcohol prices and decline in binge drinking resulted in a dramatic drop in serious violence in England and Wales last year, a new study has claimed.

alcohol minimum pricing policy
An increase in alcohol prices in England and Wales has been credited with helping the decline in violent crime

Researchers at Cardiff University found that the number of people injured in serious violence dropped by 12% in 2013 compared to 2012, with more than 32,000 fewer people treated for injuries relating to violence.

Since this also signifies a reduction for the fifth consecutive year, researchers suggested a change in alcohol habits since 2008 could be another reason for the continued decline.

The report states that since 2008, the affordability of alcohol has increased in both the on- and off-trade in England and Wales, meaning that consumption levels have decreased from 10.8 (in 2008) to 10 litres per capita (in 2011).

“Binge drinking has become less frequent, and the proportion of youths who don’t drink alcohol at all has risen sharply,” said Professor Jonathan Shepherd, lead author of the study and director of the violence and society research group at the university.

“Also, after decades in which alcohol has become more affordable, since 2008 it has become less affordable. For people most prone to involvement in violence, those aged 18 to 30, falls in disposable income are probably an important factor.”

The report was based on the Statistics on Alcohol: England report published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) in 2013 and the British Beer and Pub Association’s (BBPA) statistical handbook 2012.

Dramatic price increases

HSCIC data shows that between 1980 and 2012 the price of alcohol increased by 24% more than retail prices generally, though disposable income has also increased 99%.

Using a sample 117 emergency departments (EDs), minor injury units (MIUs) and walk-in centres, researcher also found that violence among males decreased by 19.1%, compared to 14.1% of women between 2008 and 2013.

UK alcohol responsibility body The Portman Group said it welcomed the report. “Hard work by local partnerships between local authorities, police, drinks businesses and community groups is proving most effective at both growing night time economies and reducing harms,” a spokesperson said.

“For those local communities that still suffer disproportionately from anti-social behaviour we would urge them to embrace this partnership working”

The report was published in the Journal of Public Health and Inquiry.

Earlier this year, the Home Office banned that sale of below cost alcohol in the run-up to the 2014 World Cup, however the government backtracked on plans for an alcohol minimum pricing policy amid widespread criticism from consumers and the drinks industry.

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