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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 April 2006, 13:57 GMT 14:57 UK
Cheap pint 'violence link' claim
Man fighting
Alcohol-related violence was more likely at sporting events
A one per cent price increase on beer could mean 2,200 fewer cases of alcohol-related assaults in casualty units in England and Wales, according to research.

A study by Cardiff University found hospitals in areas where cheap beer is sold treat more assault victims.

Experts looked at more than 350,000 assault-related cases treated in casualty over the last five years.

But a pub organisation said drink violence was a more complex problem.

Chancellor Gordon Brown added a 1p to the price of a pint of beer in last month's Budget.

The research team at Cardiff University welcomed the price increase saying it could be "beneficial" in cutting violence connected with alchohol.

We don't believe there is evidence to support a couple of pence increase on a pint will stop the minority...determined to cause violence
Neil Williams, BPPA

Researchers analysed statistics from the last five years from 58 of the major accident and emergency departments in England and Wales and linked them to regional beer price data from the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra).

Areas where drink was sold more cheaply had the most amounts of alcohol-related violent assault victims needing hospital treatment, their analysis showed.

Researchers Professor Kent Matthews, Professor Jonathan Shepherd and Dr Vaseekaran Sivarajasingham found violence was more closely linked to alcohol prices than a range of other factors including house prices, youth unemployment and ethnic population density.

Their study, published in the International Journal of the Care of the Injured, also found assaults are more likely over the summer and during major sporting events. Men were three times more likely to be attacked than women.

Paramedics treating a reveller
Hospitals treat thousands of drink-related assault cases every year

Dr Sivarajasingham said: "The study shows that violence-related harm in England and Wales relates closely to alcohol prices.

"In practical terms raising alcohol prices, for example through taxation, may have a beneficial effect in reducing violence-related harm throughout England and Wales."

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) does not accept there is a link between the price of alcohol and violence.

Neil Williams from BPPA said: "If you look at countries like France, Spain and Italy where alcohol is cheaper and compare it to countries like Norway and Sweden there is no problem.

"It is a social and complex behavioural problem which shouldn't be drawn into a simple fact.

"We don't believe there is evidence to support a couple of pence increase on a pint will stop the minority of people who are determined to cause violence."



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