Drink and Drugs News DDN October 2018 | Page 4

‘ Are new interventions needed to reinforce and perpetuate positive trends ?’
‘ We are cracking down on the gangs and networks responsible ’



THE LAST 15 YEARS HAVE SEEN A ‘ SHARP DECLINE ’ in drinking levels among young people in England , according to a new report from the University of Sheffield ’ s Alcohol Research Group . Young people are now ‘ less likely to drink and , if they do drink , they start doing so later , drink less often and consume smaller amounts ’, it says .
The study – which was funded by the Wellcome Trust – looked at age groups from 8- 24 and found a ‘ consistent pattern ’ of reduced participation in drinking and consumption levels , and ‘ less positive attitudes ’ towards alcohol . The proportion of 11-15 year-olds who had consumed a full alcoholic drink fell from 61 to 44 per cent between 2002 and 2016 , while the proportion of 8-12 year-olds fell from 25 to 4 per cent . The proportion of 16-17 year-olds who had drunk over the previous year also fell from 88 to 65 per cent between 2001 and 2016 , and among 16-24 yearolds the proportion fell from 90 to 78 per cent .
Young people who do drink are also drinking less , and less often , says the document , with the proportion of 16- 24 year-olds who had drunk in the last week falling from 76 to 60 per cent between 2002 and 2016 , with a fall from 35 to 9 per cent among 11-15 year-olds .
‘ It may be that increases in internet use and online gaming are changing the way young people spend their leisure time ,’ said lead author Dr Melissa Oldham . ‘ Economic factors may also play a role – concern about increasing university tuition fees and the cost of housing means young people feel they have less disposable income to spend on alcohol .’
The decline in youth drinking raises ‘ important questions about the direction of future alcohol policy ’, says the report . ‘ For example , will future youth drinking be spread across society or concentrated in specific highrisk groups , do the policy platforms of public , private and third sector organisations require updating and are new interventions needed to reinforce and perpetuate the positive trends ? To date , there has been little public debate on these questions .’
Meanwhile the Welsh Government has launched a
consultation on its proposed minimum unit price of 50p . The Public Health ( Minimum Price for Alcohol ) ( Wales ) Act 2018 was passed by the country ’ s National Assembly in June , received Royal Assent in August ( DDN , September , page 5 ), and is set to come into force next summer .
The aim of the law

‘ Are new interventions needed to reinforce and perpetuate positive trends ?’

was to protect the health of ‘ hazardous and harmful drinkers ’ who consume larger quantities of low-cost , highstrength products , said health secretary Vaughan Gething . ‘ The higher the level of MUP that is chosen , the greater the proportion of purchased alcohol that is captured and the greater the estimated impact on alcohol-related harms . However , there is a trade-off , as there is also a greater impact on moderate drinkers , particularly moderate drinkers in the more deprived groups .’ Youth drinking in decline at www . sheffield . ac . uk Consultation at beta . gov . wales / setting-minimum-unitprice-alcohol
INCREASING ALCOHOL DUTIES by just 1 per cent would raise around £ 100m a year to invest in treatment services , according to a briefing paper from Alcohol Concern / Alcohol Research UK . While this would equate to an extra 3p on a pint of beer or 5p on an average bottle of wine , it could increase alcohol treatment budgets in England by 50 per cent , says The alcohol treatment levy . More than two thirds of local authorities cut their alcohol treatment budgets between 2016 and 2018 , says the document , with 17 making cuts of more than 50 per cent . ‘ While every year the alcohol industry generates around £ 8bn from the 4 per cent of the population who drink most heavily , cuts to alcohol treatment services are having a devastating effect across the UK ,’ said the charity ’ s director of research and policy development , Dr James Nicholls . ‘ This is out of balance .’ Document at www . alcoholconcern . org . uk
THE AREA UNDER COCA CULTIVATION in Colombia has reached its highest ever level , at more than 170,000 hectares , according to UNODC . It marks an increase of 17 per cent between 2016 and 2017 , and puts the value of potential cocaine production at $ 2.7bn , says Coca cultivation survey report for Colombia . Document at www . unodc . org
EUROPEANS SMOKE AND DRINK MORE than anyone else , according to WHO ’ s European health report 2018 . While alcohol use is declining overall , adult consumption in Europe is still the highest in the world , it says , with per capita consumption levels ranging from one to 15 litres per year . One in three Europeans aged 15 and over smoke , making the continent ’ s tobacco consumption rate also the world ’ s highest . While life expectancy is increasing overall , smoking , alcohol and obesity are ‘ hindering progress in some countries ’ the report states . Document at www . who . int
THE GOVERNMENTS £ 3.6M NATIONAL COUNTY LINES COORDINATION CENTRE ( DDN , May , page 4 ) is now fully operational , the Home Office has announced . While there are already 200 active county lines investigations underway , the new multi-agency centre will allow the police to ‘ intensify their operations ’, the government says . ‘ Using vulnerable young people to travel across the country to sell drugs is an appalling crime and we are cracking down on the gangs and networks responsible for these deplorable acts ,’ said crime minister Victoria Atkins . ‘ The National County Lines Coordination Centre will strengthen the law enforcement response to this issue and enable police forces to work together to tackle a crime that crosses regions and demands a multi-agency approach .’ However , a report from St Giles Trust found that county lines intelligence was ‘ not , or not easily , shared across police force boundaries ’, with many local authorities also unaware of vulnerable children in their areas . County lines scoping report at www . stgilestrust . org . uk

‘ We are cracking down on the gangs and networks responsible ’

VictoriA Atkins
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