Alcohol prices not to blame for bad behaviour, says WSTA

The WSTA says blaming cheap alcohol for the rise in anti-social behaviour among young people is "simplistic" and has called for communities, police and councils to work with the drinks industry to tackle the problem.

Responding to comments made by Cheshire chief constable Peter Fahy yesterday, WSTA chief executive Jeremy Beadles said it was wrong to make the drinks industry scapegoats for the problem.

He said: "It is too simplistic to blame the anti-social behaviour of an irresponsible minority on the pricing and availability of alcohol.

“The alcohol retail sector takes its responsibilities extremely seriously, and has significantly reduced opportunities for under-18s to buy alcohol themselves."

In a statement about Cheshire police's battle against anti-social behaviour and alcohol-induced violence, Fahy said alcohol was too cheap, too readily available and too strong and called for prices to rise to stop young people buying it.

He added: "To see the issue of antisocial behaviour by teenagers as a problem for the police to resolve is naive - as a nation I believe we need those who sell the alcohol to young people, those who price strong alcohol so cheaply, those who promote alcohol as glamorous, those parents who turn a blind eye to where their children are, those teenagers who ignore the rights of others to live without intimidation or abuse - we need all these elements of our society to rack their conscience and consider what duty they have to beat the scourge of anti-social behaviour by young people."

However, Beadles said because retailers are acting responsibly and refusing to sell alcohol to under-18s, youths are increasingly asking older friends, siblings and parents to buy it on their behalf.

He said: "These adults need to know that what they are doing is not only illegal and utterly irresponsible, but will also be taken seriously by the police."

Beadles also said the WSTA was against raising the legal purchase age for alcohol to 21, as suggested by Fahy.