Focus on alcohol-related crime and disorder

We call on the Government to reduce alcohol-related crime and disorder through policies such as reducing the drink-driving BAC limit, investing in family drug and alcohol courts, and expanding the delivery of brief interventions in criminal justice settings.

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Alcohol is implicated in an enormous amount of crime and disorder, and the effects on the victims can be devastating. Alcohol is a factor in 39% of all violent crimes in England and 49% in Wales. Furthermore, there is an enormous amount of hidden harm associated with alcohol through its role in exacerbating domestic violence, child neglect and the abuse of vulnerable individuals.

All references can be found in the full Alcohol Charter, which you can download at the bottom of this page.

The Alcohol Charter is supported by over 30 organisations across the drugs and alcohol sector, and has received increasing cross-party parliamentary support.

To reduce alcohol-related crime and disorder, we call on the Government to:

Expand the delivery of brief interventions in prisons, courts and custody suites, ensuring support is provided post-release where required.

Three-quarters of those who come into contact with the criminal justice system in the UK have an alcohol problem, while more than a third are dependent on alcohol. The HM Inspectorate of Prisons, in their 2010 thematic review of the subject, “highlighted the failure of the Prison Service to adequately address the problems of alcohol misuse in prisons, despite repeated warnings by the Prison Reform Trust about its harmful effect on reoffending rates and the growing prevalence of alcohol-related crime.” They found that alcohol problems were not consistently identified, and that at all stages a prisoner with an alcohol use problem was less likely to have his or her needs assessed, or acted upon than a prisoner with a drug problem.

The delivery of brief interventions has the potential to decrease alcohol’s burden on the health service and to support those drinking at hazardous and harmful levels to access advice and support before this develops into serious health complications. The criminal justice system is one setting where delivery of brief interventions is essential. In a report from the Ministry of Justice and Public Health England on community-based treatment, it was found that alcohol-only clients showed the largest reductions in reoffending.

Reduce the drink-driving Blood Alcohol Content limit to 50mg/100ml down from 80mg/100ml so the rest of the UK is in line with Scotland and most of Europe.

The number of drink-drive casualties and accidents has been increasing since 2013, yet the drink-drive Blood Alcohol Content limit in England and Wales has remained unchanged since its introduction in 1965. Currently there are around 240 drink-drive deaths and more than 8,000 drink-drive casualties reported in the UK each year.

80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood leaves drivers six times as likely to die in an accident as those who have not drunk. If the limit in England and Wales were reduced to the 50mg/100ml level, at least 25 lives would be saved every year, preventing 95 casualties and saving £800 million annually.

A Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) is “a problem-solving court approach to improving outcomes for children involved in care proceedings. It offers and alternative [to the traditional criminal justice system] and more successful way of supporting parents to overcome the substance misuse, mental health and domestic abuse problems that have put their children at risk of serious harm.” (FDAC National Unit 2015)

In 2015 the FDAC National Unit was set up, funded by the Department for Education, to support the roll-out of this model to courts across the country. There are now ten FDACs running in 23 local authorities. However, this National Unit is now facing closure due to lack of funds.

Evidence suggests that not only do FDACs improve outcomes for families, but that the National Unit has been shown to have contributed to their growth. Evaluations have found that significantly more families were reunited through using FDACs than the traditional system and that more mothers were no longer experiencing substance misuse problems. The likelihood that there was further neglect or abuse of children in FDAC families was less than half that of families in normal care proceedings. Continued investment in this service is important in securing better outcomes for children and families.

Increase access to Alcohol Diversion Schemes for those involved in alcohol-related crime and disorder.

In 2016/17 in England and Wales 12% of theft offences and 21% of criminal damage offences were alcohol-related.

Many parts of the UK now run Alcohol Diversion Schemes where drinkers who commit less serious offences are given a choice between a fine, possible court appearance and a criminal record; or a reduced fine and no criminal sanctions if they complete an alcohol awareness course. Civil Injunctions and Criminal Behaviour Orders can also be issued by courts as part of sentencing which require people to receive interventions such as support, counselling and alcohol treatment. This can reduce reoffending by addressing the underlying cause of the crime or anti-social behaviour.

We also call on the Government to:

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Download the full Alcohol Charter

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