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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 April, 2004, 09:03 GMT 10:03 UK
Youth stings tackle alcohol crime
Man slumped on the ground
Alcohol is connected to 70% of late night hospital admissions
People under 18 are to be used in police sting operations targeting shops and bars selling alcohol to minors, the government has announced.

This could lead to offending venues being publicly identified, Home Office minister Hazel Blears said on Thursday.

The measures to tackle binge-drinking have been announced as new figures revealed violent crime has risen 11%, much of it alcohol-related.

But the figures show crime levels overall remain stable.

Speaking at a north London bar, Ms Blears said the aim was to target those who encourage underage and binge drinking by selling them alcohol illegally.

"The government is cracking down on irresponsible landlords who encourage binge-drinking, we are going to put an end to no-go city centres - reclaiming them for decent, law-abiding citizens," she said.

This is targeting those encouraging and aiding underage drinking
Government spokesman

The Home Office estimates alcohol is the root cause of around half of all violent crime, and connected to 70% of late-night admissions to hospital emergency rooms.

'Mean business'

Alcohol Concern welcomed the announcement, but said the sting powers were not new.

"What is important here is showing they are serious about using them.

"One of the things we have been calling for is the government centrally to show they mean business and are serious about tackling alcohol-related problems."

A government spokesman said: "This is targeting those encouraging and aiding underage drinking. Such operations could last between six and eight weeks."

He said police could send under 18s into off-licences, bars or nightclubs - any outlet willing to sell alcohol to them.

Different police forces are to be allowed to tailor the tactics to target problems specific to their areas.

CHANGE IN CRIME RATES: Q4 2002 - Q4 2003
Graph
The British Crime Survey is based on interviews with the public
Recorded crime represents incidents reported to the police




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"The British Crime Survey suggests 44% of crime is drink-related"



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