Government under fire for anti-social drinking campaigns

Government measures to tackle anti-social drinking among young women are “strongly punitive” and fail to examine the root causes of excessive drinking, according to new findings by the charity YWCA.

In its report Young women and binge drinking: breaking the habit, YWCA accuses the government of treating drinking by young women “as a crime and disorder issue” rather than “as a matter of public health and well-being”.

“We are concerned that the predominant focus on excessive drinking as a crime is distracting. There needs to be a much greater focus on the reason for drinking in the first place and a concerted effort to find suitable ways to support young women,” the report says.

It also calls for initiatives to investigate the links between alcohol and offending, particularly among younger women “who are often overlooked in programmes for older people”.

The findings, which are based on focus groups, interviews and surveys with 45 girls and young women aged between 11 and 24, were revealed at a conference in London hosted by the YWCA yesterday (October 21).

Delegates also urged the drinks industry to give more financial support to government strategies, and highlighted the need to include young women’s experiences and voices in public information campaigns.

The conference was believed to be the first of its kind exploring the causes and consequences specifically of young women’s binge-drinking.