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Last Updated: Monday, 26 March 2007, 07:31 GMT 08:31 UK
Funds call for prison alcoholics
Prison (generic)
Some prisoners drink five times more than recommended.
More funds to help prisoners addicted to alcohol could help to reduce reoffending, an alcohol charity says.

Alcohol Concern says 35% of all inmates say they have a drink problem, and nearly half think alcohol contributed to their offending.

It says inmates who admit an alcohol problem are drinking at "dangerous levels on a regular basis".

It wants to see more funding for research, and similar care to drug users when they leave prison.

Health guidelines

In a report, "Tackling alcohol misuse in prison: a window of opportunity or a lost opportunity?", the charity said there was double the amount of "hazardous drinkers" among female prisoners (15%) than non-prisoners.

The charity also says half of all inmates would use an alcohol service if it was available to them.

The report revealed that many prisoners admitted they were drinking at very high levels.

Of those who did not believe they had a problem, the average consumption was 43 units each week and the average among those who recognised they had a problem drinking 157 units per week.

Health guidelines generally recommend a maximum of 28 units a week for men and 21 for women. A unit is half a pint of beer, a measure of spirits or a small glass of wine.

Treatment and rehabilitation

The report said: "Support for prisoners with alcohol problems still falls far short of what is available for prisoners with drug problems."

Don Shenker, director of policy and services at Alcohol Concern said: "It makes sense for the government to devote more resources to treating alcohol misuse disorders among prisoners.

"Studies show that prisoners who identify themselves as having a drink problem consume alcohol at incredibly high, and dangerous levels on a regular basis.

"Giving them the support and help they need could make a major contribution to cutting down the likelihood of their re-offending."

He added that 44% of all violent crimes involved someone under the influence of alcohol.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg said: ?This new report simply confirms what is becoming more obvious by the day - the prison system can do little to change the behaviour of offenders unless far greater resources and attention are devoted to dealing with the alcohol and drug addictions of prisoners, as well as their mental health.

"That is why we believe prisons must be made to work by combining incarceration with effective treatment and rehabilitation."

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