North East police officers are feeling the first-hand impact of alcohol misuse with over 80% being subjected to an alcohol-related assault during their career – and one in five being  assaulted six or more times.

The latest perception findings from Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, also reveal that new recruits are warned that they will probably be the victim of an alcohol-related assault before the end of their first year in the force.

The findings are part of a new Balance report, The Impact of Alcohol on Policing in the North East, which surveyed 1,100 frontline officers across the region’s three forces – Cleveland, Durham and Northumbria – to further understand alcohol’s impact on the frontline and to gain their perceptions on the issue.

The report also revealed that:

  • 97% feel at risk of physical assault when policing the night time economy.
  • Almost 9 in 10 officers believe cheap alcohol contributes to alcohol-related crime and disorder
  • A majority of officers (6 in 10) said alcohol related
    crime and disorder takes up at least half of their time while 1 in 10
    say it constitutes 80 – 100% of their workload.
  • On a weekend evening shift nearly every single person being dealt with or arrested is intoxicated through alcohol misuse.
  • Officers often have to deal with alcohol related anti-social behaviour from children as young as eleven years old.

Around half of all violent crime in England and Wales is alcohol-related and studies have shown that as alcohol consumption increases, so does violent offending. People who drink before going out for the night are more likely to be involved in a fight and around half of all violent incidents take place at the weekend when binge drinking is at its peak. Alcohol is also linked with 39% of domestic violence cases.

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said:

Alcohol is having an impact on every part of our society – and policing is no different. It is costing our forces in terms of time, expenditure and vital resources – it is also putting officers at risk.

One of the main factors is that alcohol continues to be too affordable, too available and too widely promoted. We know that the more affordable alcohol is, the more people consume. We therefore urge the Government to stand firm on its commitment to introduce a minimum unit price on alcohol.

A minimum unit price will make cheap, strong alcohol less affordable to the vulnerable younger and heavier drinkers who are more likely to drink it and suffer the consequences. If set at 50p, research carried out by the University of Sheffield indicates that after ten years, every year in England it will cut crimes by 48,500. It would only cost a moderate drinker an extra 28p per week and wouldn’t affect the price of a pint in a community pub. We believe it is a price worth paying.

Here in the North East we know that it is needed and it is wanted – evidence also tells us that it works. Importantly most people in the region have backed call for the introduction of a minimum unit price. It is supported by our police, it is supported by the majority of the North East public, it is supported by our GPs and it is supported by our publicans.

Read the full report here:

The impact of alcohol on Policing in the North East.