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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 July 2004, 04:02 GMT 05:02 UK
Blunkett warns on binge drinking
A pint of beer being drunk
Changing drinks culture is cause for concern says Blunkett
A rise in binge drinking is helping to breed a culture of "thuggery and intimidation" said David Blunkett.

The changing drinking habits of women are of particular concern, with the number consuming over the safe limit having more than doubled.

The home secretary was speaking to the Observer newspaper ahead of the publication of his department's five-year strategy on violent crime.

New crime figures are to show a rise in 'violence against the person'.

Mr Blunkett said the number of women drinking over the 'safe limit' of 21 units per week had risen from 14% to 33%.

He told the newspaper pub culture was changing and women were no longer exerting the good influence they had tended to in the past.

'Respect'

"They may be the ones who countenance it rather than calm it.

"It is not chauvinistic to say the presence of women has often been a calming influence, in terms of young men starting to lay about each other," he told the Observer.

The home secretary will launch a crackdown on anti-social behaviour when he launches the five-year violent crime strategy on Monday.

The proposals are meant to provide a "clearer picture of the kind of thuggery and intimidation that is going on," said Mr Blunkett.

But he said anger over anti-social behaviour was encouraging people to report incidences that would previously have been ignored as minor.

The way to tackle anti-social behaviour was to put "respect" back into communities, especially via parenting and families, he said.

The home secretary's plans will reveal how he intends to meet a pledge to cut crime by 15%, by 2008.

The new target was set last week as part of the Home Office's funding agreement with the Treasury.

It will involve cutting 885,000 offences from the 5.9m recorded by police in England and Wales in 2002-2003.

More prison places?

Ministers have already revealed their funding will quadruple the number of civilian police wardens to 20,000 and maintain the record 138,000 police officers.

The plans for civilian wardens and community support officers (CSOs) have alarmed rank-and-file police officers, who opposed the creation of civilian ranks who do not swear an oath and have only limited powers to detain suspects.

The plan is also expected to include extra resources for projects offering activities such a sport and mentoring sessions for teenagers in high crime areas.

Chancellor Gordon Brown said extra cash will also be spent on getting offenders off drugs so that 200,000 a year are in treatment by 2008.

The document will address the whole range of Home Office responsibilities, including asylum, immigration and prisons.

It may also give detail on the setting up the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, which is to merge the National Crime Squad, National Criminal Intelligence Service and investigation units at Customs and Excise.

More prison places are also expected to be announced, as are details of the next stages of the national identity card scheme.




SEE ALSO
Brown plans 20,000 police wardens
12 Jul 04 |  UK Politics

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