Vera Baird DBE KC

Writer, Lecturer, Parliamentary Consultant and Co-Director of Astraea: Gender Justice

Action Needed To Tackle True Cost Of Alcohol.

As alcohol-related NHS admissions hit almost 10 million in England, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird has again called for action to be taken in stemming the consumption of alcohol.

Already this year Mrs Baird, together with fellow north east Police and Crime Commissioners Ron Hogg from Durham and Cleveland’s Barry Coppinger, have written of their concerns over the direct link between cheap alcohol and crime and disorder.

The three Commissioners had called on the Government to introduce minimum pricing. Research had shown that by doing this, alcohol related crimes would reduce by thousands each year leading to an improvement in public safety and confidence as well as reducing the health impact of excessive alcohol consumption.

Almost half of violent crimes are linked to alcohol and a survey of north east frontline police officers showed how nearly all questioned could not remember the last time they had been called to a domestic abuse incident where alcohol wasn’t involved.

Today Alcohol Concern has updated its Alcohol Harm Map which shows that six out of every ten alcohol-related hospital visits were A&E admissions as well as almost two-thirds of the cost of inpatient admissions.

The cost of inpatient admissions partly attributable to alcohol was said to be £1.3bn.

“This growing reliance on alcohol is proving both costly to people’s health as well as the financial costs of health care providers,” the Commissioner said.

“Add to this the cost alcohol consumption has on crime and disorder, not just in monetary terms for people and businesses but in its affect on the confidence of our communities, and we are looking at a worrying situation,“ Mrs Baird added.

The Commissioner has also worked extensively in protecting people who become vulnerable while out in the region’s thriving night time economy and has introduced a raft of measures to help keep people safe.

“I’ve introduced vulnerability training locally for door staff, which now happens nationally, and know through the feedback we’ve had that this is making a real difference.

“This training is also being given to others working in the night time economy as well as partner agencies like local authorities, so now we have many more eyes and ears looking out for those who become vulnerable and need help to get home safely or be reunited with their friends and family.”

Mrs Baird added: “The costs we are now seeing to various public services points to a very real need for actions to be taken to help people and alleviate the strain being placed on an already over-stretched public purse.”