In 1999 it was estimated that over 1.2 million people were subject to incidents of alcohol-related violence in the United Kingdom (British Crime Survey (BCS), 2000). The true cost of alcohol to society is difficult to assess but in 2003 (igure 1a) was estimated to be costing the United Kingdom £20 billion annually (Cabinet Office, 2003). This paper will examine the extent of alcohol-related violence and some of the ways in which the Government and local bodies are addressing the issue.
Alcohol Related Violence.
Only a small number of specified offences are defined by their nature as alcohol-related where statute indicates that there has to be an element of drunkenness. These include offences of being drunk and disorderly, drunk and incapable or drink driving. Offences that may be triggered by alcohol are far more difficult to quantify as there is no statutory requirement and no singular way of recording an alcohol related offence.
In their report Guidance for local partnerships on alcohol-related crime and disorder data' (2003) the Home Office suggested that alcohol-related crime or disorder should be defined as instances of crime and disorder that occurred, and/or occurred at that level of seriousness, because alcohol consumption was a contributory factor.
Each week there are around 13,000 violent incidents occurring in and around licensed premises (Deehan, 2003) and does not include offences of disorder such as those governed by the 1985 Public Order Act or common law breaches of the peace. This figure however may just be the tip of the iceberg as many incidents and offences go unreported because the victim is too intoxicated or unwilling to make a complaint to the police. Many violent acts fuelled by alcohol stem from excessive drinking and the so-called Lager Lout' culture (Tuck, 1989) taking place on Friday and Saturday nights outside pubs and clubs. There is clear evidence that setting has a major impact on alcohol-related violence.