Page last updated at 07:05 GMT, Friday, 2 May 2008 08:05 UK

Rise in arrests of women drunks

Drunk woman
Critics say alcohol advertising is now targeting women

The number of women arrested for being drunk and disorderly has increased by more than 50% in parts of the UK in the last five years, police figures show.

In the West Midlands, arrests increased 12-fold, from 59 in 2003/4 to 731 last year. In Gwent, the rise was nearly seven-fold, from 29 to 190.

Figures were provided to Channel 4 News Online by 38 of the UK's 52 police forces. The rest failed to respond.

In 15 areas, the number of women drunks arrested fell or stayed the same.

Overall, there were 5,891 females detained last year compared with 3,847 five years ago.

'Ban advertising'

All of the UK's police forces were asked for details of arrests made for drunk and disorderly, or for comparable offences in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Of those, 21 reported a like-for-like increase over the five year period.

Biggest rises in women arrested for drunkenness
West Midlands - 1,138%
Gwent - 578%
Leicestershire - 450%
Cheshire - 135%
West Yorkshire - 86%

Northumbria Police saw arrests jump from 1,414 to 2,101 - a rise of 48%.

Chief Constable Mike Craik told Channel 4 that much more needed to be done, particularly to combat underage drinking.

"There should also be an end to discounted drinks, such as two-for-one deals, happy hours and supermarkets selling alcohol at below cost prices," Mr Craik said.

"There should be a ban on the sale of alcopops and no advertising of alcohol."

Other major increases between were seen in:

  • Leicestershire - from 14 to 77

  • Cheshire - from 85 to 200

  • West Yorkshire - from 528 to 981

  • Dyfed-Powys - from 65 to 120

  • Essex - from 112 to 204

Don Shenker, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said women were now following the example of young men.

But he said: "The trouble is that women's bodies cannot handle these large amounts of alcohol."

Mr Shenker also said alcohol was still being sold too cheaply, despite tax increases in the recent Budget.

"Pubs and bars are now targeting women with special offers and cheap drinks to encourage them to drink more. It should be stopped," he said.

'Drunk and incapable'

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: "This is yet another consequence of Labour's reckless decision to unleash 24-hour drinking on our towns and cities."

A Home Office spokesman said alcohol-related violence had fallen overall by a third since 1995.

"But we are not complacent," he said. "There will be no let-up in the government's efforts to create a healthier drinking culture."

In England, 17 forces reported an increase and nine forces a fall, while in Wales, figures rose in two out of three forces.

The number of women detained for being "drunk and incapable" in Scotland increased in two forces and showed a fall or no change in five others.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said offences climbed from 2003/04 until 2006/07, but fell last year.

The figures available for 2007/08 only covered 11 months, so the total for the year will be higher.

Two forces provided data which could not be compared with other figures.

Drink linked to female offenders
22 Apr 08 |  Scotland
Women drinkers are fit to burst
09 Nov 07 |  Health


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