Minimum unit price for alcohol in Wales: response from Deputy Crime Commissioner Sophie Howe
South Wales Police Deputy Crime Commissioner Sophie Howe has welcomed the proposed new law to introduce a minimum unit price for the sale and supply of alcohol in Wales.
This draft Bill mirror’s the excellent work already undertaken by South Wales Police and partner agencies to effectively tackle alcohol-related crime and the impact it has on both the victims and perpetrators.
The Welsh Government has published a consultation, which highlights the introduction could save almost 50 lives a year by tackling the impact on health and society of drinking too much alcohol. The draft Bill proposes introducing an offence for alcohol to be sold or supplied below the minimum price per unit, which would be set at 50p per unit, although this would be kept under review.
Introducing a 50p minimum unit price is estimated to be worth £882m to the Welsh economy in terms of reductions in illness, crime and workplace absence over 20 years*. Crime – and the cost of crime to the taxpayer – would also be expected to fall following the introduction of a minimum unit price, with an estimated 3,684 fewer offences a year; workplace absence would also fall by up to 10,000 days per year *.
The South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner’s office is collaborating with Public Health Wales, who are analysing multi-agency data linked to violence that has been shared by the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust, South Wales Police and the three health boards covering the force area. All of the trend data received has highlighted that peak times for violence are on a Friday and Saturday night between the hours of 22:00hrs and 04:00hrs the next day.
This is clearly linked to the night time economy, with the vast majority of repeat assault locations being licensed premises in each health board area. This is the time when all emergency services are under the most pressure and this understanding has led to the development of interventions such as the Swansea Help Point and the Know the Score Campaign.
Deputy Crime Commissioner Sophie Howe said:
“Tackling violent crime is a key priority. We continue to work with our partners in health, local government education and the voluntary sector, to make our town and city centres safer. The new Help Point in Swansea, the Alcohol Treatment Centre in Cardiff and improving training for door staff are just three important examples. Additionally, we have our partners on board such as local authority taxi marshals and Street Pastors who play an important role, as well as agencies such as the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency who ensure the transport people use to get into town and city centres is safe.
“Good progress is being made but there is still much more to be done and we are now working with our partners to prevent the conditions that can often lead to violence and injury – quite simply drinking too much.
“South Wales has some of the best venues to enjoy and we want people to make sure they have a great time out just by taking responsibility for themselves and their friends.
“In a recent campaign carried out in partnership with health organisations, on average individuals consume around 17.9 units of alcohol during a night out.”
The draft Bill proposes:
New powers for Welsh Ministers to make subordinate legislation to set the minimum unit price for all alcohol sold or supplied in Wales; Powers for local authorities to enforce the minimum unit price, including powers of entry for authorised officers; an offence of obstructing an authorised officer and the power to issue fixed penalty notices.