Alcohol is seen as one of the major causes of crime in urban Britain today. It is associated with a million crimes in the UK every year.
Alcohol-related crime makes up a substantial portion of violent offences across the UK in particular (39% in England and Wales in 2017/18, 54% in Scotland in 2014/15, and 40% in Northern Ireland in 2016/17), and is estimated to cost between 1.3 and 2.7% of the UK annual GDP (£21-£52 billion), according to a 2016 Public Health England report.
Alcohol also places a significant burden on the emergency services – three quarters of police and half of ambulance respondents have been injured in alcohol-related incidents – while research has also highlighted the role of alcohol in domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and violent crime including murder.
A number of drivers of alcohol-related crime identified include price, the density and types of premises, and extended drinking hours. Policies aiming to address these drivers exist at both a national and local level in the UK. These range from licensing regulations to tough penalties for criminal behaviour linked to alcohol. Research suggests Minimum Unit Pricing also presents an effective policy option.