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Alcoholic Drinks: Misuse

Volume 485: debated on Wednesday 17 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of Government policies to encourage safe and sensible social drinking. (240371)

A cross-Government ministerial group monitors and manages the delivery and effectiveness of the Government’s alcohol strategy. Information on progress against the actions in ‘Safe. Sensible. Social. The next steps in the National Alcohol Strategy’ (a copy of which has already been placed in the Library) as well as statistical data assessing reductions in alcohol harm or changes in public awareness are published on Government websites.

Latest data show the following information on progress against the actions in ‘Safe. Sensible. Social. The next steps in the National Alcohol Strategy’ as well as statistical data on alcohol harms or changes in public awareness:

alcohol related violent crime fell by a third between 1997 and 2007-08, from approximately 1.5 million incidents to fewer than 1 million;

public perception of drunk and rowdy behaviour in public places in their area being a fairly big or very big problem has risen from 22 per cent. to 25 per cent. over the last five years;

the proportion of 11 to 15-year-olds who have ever drunk alcohol is falling, from 61 per cent. in 2003 to 54 per cent. in 2007;

average weekly alcohol consumption by those 11 to 15-year-olds who do drink has varied since 2000 with no clear pattern or trend, however average consumption in 2007 was lower than that in 2006;

assessment of the most recent campaign to reduce underage sales of alcohol, Tackling Underage Sales of Alcohol, has shown a 20 per cent. fall in failure rates since the last campaign in 2006;

the 2008 review of the Licensing Act found a 5 per cent. decrease in serious violent crime at night, 3 per cent. reduction in less serious wounding at night since implementation of the Act, although between October 2005 and September 2006 there was a small increase in offences reported between 3 am and 6 am; and

alcohol-related hospital admissions are estimated to have risen by about 80,000 admissions a year over the five years 2002-03 to 2006-07.

On 3 December 2008, we announced proposed legislation for powers to create and enforce a mandatory code for alcohol retailers and £4.5 million of investment in an enforcement campaign to tackle alcohol-related crime and antisocial behaviour.

By introducing a mandatory code, we are acting to restrict irresponsible alcohol promotions, including those based on price. We will act in necessary and proportionate ways to help ensure that the environment in which alcohol is consumed does not encourage excessive consumption.

Alongside this announcement, we published a summary of the responses to the recent public alcohol consultation and the Sheffield University School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) review of the effects of alcohol price and promotion. Both documents have been placed in the Library.

The Department’s new Alcohol Improvement Programme will bring together new and existing guidance, data, good practice and training materials for NHS primary care trusts (PCTs) and alcohol practitioners, along with direct support to those PCTs with the highest rates of alcohol-related hospital admissions.

Consumers will increasingly have available the information they need to make informed decisions on their consumption.

Industry will be expected to play its part in promoting safer and more sensible drinking.

Advice and support for those who are at most risk will be made available through the effective commissioning and delivery of NHS preventive interventions and treatment.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) adults and (b) children were admitted to accident and emergency departments in England as a result of drinking alcohol in each month of the last four years. (243707)