News roundup: December 2018

January 2019 | 8 minutes

December's monthly roundup from the Alcohol Policy UK blog.

Each month we publish a news roundup from the Alcohol Policy UK blog. Since the November roundup...

In the news

IAS year in review

The Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) year in review is available here, chronicling 2018's key developments including new reports, policy decisions and campaigns.

Increased drink-fuelled violence at train stations

Drink-fuelled violence at train stations over the festive period more than doubled in two years, according to the Independent. British Transport Police data indicates there were 189 cases of drink-fuelled violence between 24 November 2017 and 2 January 2018, compared with 85 during the festive period two years earlier.

More alcohol-fuelled attacks on rough sleepers

There have been a growing number of alcohol-fuelled attacks on people sleeping on Britain’s streets, reports the Guardian, with Merseyside police saying violence against rough sleepers has doubled in five years. “A lot of the attacks are alcohol-related and the homeless are easy prey,” said Lindsey Dixon, a homeless outreach worker at the Royal Liverpool hospital.

Barclays introduces new payment-blocking feature

Barclays has become the first high street bank to allow customers to block payments with certain types of retailers, reports the Guardian. The bank’s mobile app could help customers dealing with gambling or other problems to cut off their spending in betting shops, pubs, bars, supermarkets or on premium-rate websites and phone lines.

Liverpool’s nightlife is being filmed

Channel 5 are filming intoxicated people in Liverpool, but locals are concerned it will sensationalise the issue, reports the Echo. Cllr Nick Small said, "I hope this programme deals with this complex subject in a sensitive and compassionate way and doesn’t try to sensationalise the lives of the people participating or paint them or Liverpool’s night-time economy in a negative light.”

Dry January

What is Dry January, how does it raise money for charities and what are the best non-alcoholic drinks?, explored the Sun ahead of 2019.

Tom Kerridge speaks out about his relationship with alcohol on Desert Island Discs

Tom Kerridge is "still dependent on alcohol and misses its 'chaos'", reports The Telegraph. Kerridge also spoke more about his past alcohol problems on Desert Island Discs.

Number of breathalyser tests is falling, but people are still getting caught

More than half of motorists screened during a summer crackdown on drug-driving failed roadside tests, reported the Guardian. During 14 June to 15 July, 36,675 breath tests for alcohol were carried out, with 3,667 – one in 10 drivers – being either positive, refused or failed by the driver.

Meanwhile the Telegraph reported roadside breath tests fell to their lowest level on record as police forces scale back patrols that could catch drink-drivers. For the first time the number of drivers or motorcyclists breathalysed after an accident also fell below 100,000 in 2017, down 12% in a year and almost half of the level of a decade ago. The number of roadside screening breath tests fell 15% last year to 325,000, down from a peak of 670,000 in 2009, a decline of more than 50% in eight years, according to home office figures.

Anti-drink- and drug-drive campaign catches out 19 in a week

Police arrested 19 people in the first week of an anti-drink and drug drive Christmas campaign, reports the BBC. Insp Dave Cust, from North Wales Police Roads Policing Unit, said, "It is disappointing that a small minority of people are still intent on ignoring our messages - despite our repeated warnings. Our #ChooseWisely campaign is heavily focussed on asking people to make the right choice, so we will continue to use social media to drive home the messages that drink and drug driving can have devastating

Health and research

More research needed into FASD

More research into how many children may be affected by Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is being called for, according to the BBC. A range of physical and mental problems, including permanent brain damage, can be caused by the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy, with many worried about the extent of under-diagnosis.

Alcohol-related hospital admissions double in 10 years

More than one million people are admitted to hospital every year with alcohol-related problems - double that of 10 years ago, reports the Express. Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chairman, UK Alcohol Health Alliance, said: "These figures are a stark reminder that alcohol-related hospital admissions are a huge burden on an already overstretched NHS, though many readers will know alcohol-related admissions first passed one million in 2010.