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Child alcohol crime increased by 28% in four years

Figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats show that a total of nearly 40,000 under 18s have been fined, cautioned or taken to court for alcohol-related offences between 2003 and 2007.

Over this period, the number has increased by 28%, from 6,764 in 2003 to 8,686 in 2007. It must be borne in mind that these figures include Penalty Notices for Disorder (PNDs), which were introduced for 16 and 17 year-olds at the start of this period and extended to 10-15 year-olds in 2004. It is inevitable that the number of PNDs issued would increase in the years following their introduction.

Unsurprisingly, the number of crimes was highest amongst the oldest children. Of the 39,714 under 18s fined, cautioned or taken to court, 124 were 10 to 12 year-olds, 6,111 were 13-15 year-olds and 33,479 were 16 or 17.

Commenting on these figures, Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Chris Huhne called for action to tackle our drinking culture and said, "We must put an end to alcohol being sold at pocket-money prices."

We hope that Mr Huhne can persuade his colleague, Robert Brown, of the wisdom of this view. As Liberal Democrat justice spokesman for Scotland, Mr Brown has consistently opposed the introduction on minimum pricing for alcohol, arguing that it would have only a marginal effect and would not would not tackle the underlying reasons that "make people drink themselves stupid in the first place". Perhaps he has not considered the effect on children of selling alcohol at pocket-money prices.

The Liberal Democrats' press release is available here.

Robert Brown was quoted by the BBC here and here.