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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 June, 2003, 18:24 GMT 19:24 UK
Warning on crime drink link
Police patrol
Mr Rae wants a focus on alcohol related crime
Politicians must acknowledge that most violent crimes are linked to excessive drinking, according to the chief constable of Scotland's largest police force.

Willie Rae said new measures were needed to tackle the problem of alcohol-related crime.

The Strathclyde force's annual report, which was published on Thursday, shows a small reduction in total crime, but a rise in violent crime.

The report shows that overall recorded crime is down in the last year by almost 4% to the lowest level in the force's history.

Officers also recorded the force's highest ever detection rate.

However, violent crime was up by more than 2.4% (200 offences).

Mr Rae said that if violent crime was to be reduced, something must be done about binge drinking, especially among the young.

He told BBC Radio Scotland: "The police don't have all the answers to this problem.

Committee recommendations

"Violent crime has been with us for many many years and this issue about alcohol has also been with us for many years.

"It's something that the police cannot solve alone.

"I hope the parliament recognises that this is an important issue, an urgent matter."

Mr Rae is urging changes to Scotland's drinking laws.

He was a member of the Nicholson Committee which has made recommendations to the Scottish Executive.

Willie Rae
I hope the parliament recognises that this is an important issue, an urgent matter
Willie Rae
Strathclyde chief constable

Mr Rae said it was imperative that Sheriff Gordon Nicholson's recommendations were made law as soon as possible.

He said: "If we're going to look at the causes of violent crime, it's looking at modernising the licensing legislation that we have here in Scotland and a report is lying on ministers' desks."

Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson said everyone wanted to see solutions to the problems.

"We want to change the culture of binge drinking that is too prevalent in many communities.

She added: "We can cut down on the amount of violent crime by getting people to think about drinking more sensibly and more safely."

Police numbers

The chief constable unveiled his force's annual report on Thursday.

Mr Rae said his officers had achieved much in the past 12 months - but that more needed to be done.

"All of our plans and actions are now designed to address the issues of most concern in our communities," he said.

"It is important to inform the public of the strategies we have developed and for them to tell us whether or not these things are actually working."

The chief constable also restated his ambition to make Strathclyde the best police force in the world.

BBC Scotland's Bob Wylie
"The chief constable says it is time to acknowledge the link between crime and excessive drinking"

Chief Constable Willie Rae
"It's something that the police cannot solve alone"

Violent crime on the rise
28 May 03  |  Scotland
Millions hooked on alcohol
04 Mar 03  |  Health
Counting the toll of binge drinking
12 Nov 02  |  Scotland

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