Page last updated at 10:56 GMT, Monday, 8 September 2008 11:56 UK

Minister hears booze ban success

Alcohol at an off-licence
The pilot scheme to ban off-licence sale to under 21s began in April

Scotland's health minister has said a pilot scheme which prevents off-licence sales of alcohol to under 21s could help bring a cultural shift.

Shona Robison is visiting Stenhousemuir to see the effects of the scheme, which has been operating there since April.

Since it began, local police said calls about anti-social behaviour dropped by 40% with breaches of the peace also down by 40%.

A public consultation on adopting the scheme nationally will end on Tuesday.

The Scottish Government has put forward proposals for a national under-21s sales ban in shops and off-licences, introducing a minimum price for a unit of alcohol, as well as a social responsibility fee for some retailers.

As a society, we're consuming more and more alcohol and the 'clear-up' costs across society are estimated at 2.25bn per year
Shona Robison
Health Minister

Speaking ahead of her visit to Stenhousemuir, Ms Robison said: "Taken together, we believe these measures could help bring about the long-term cultural shift needed to re-balance Scotland's relationship with alcohol.

"The dramatic results from Stop the Supply show what can be achieved when communities take bold steps to tackle alcohol misuse among young people.

"While the majority of our young people are responsible and don't misuse alcohol, there is a significant minority who cause a disproportionate amount of crime and anti-social behaviour, often under the influence of alcohol.

"As a society, we're consuming more and more alcohol and the 'clear-up' costs across society are estimated at 2.25bn per year."

Demonises youngsters

Figures released by Central Scotland Police during the last six months for the area covered by the pilot show the level of serious assaults reported had fallen by 60% while the number of minor assaults was also down by 30%.

Ch Insp Bob Beaton who led the implementation of the pilot, along with local retailers, said: "We introduced this initiative on 1 April as we believed there was a direct link between youths consuming alcohol and committing anti-social behaviour offences.

"Stop the Supply is an important part of our strategy to this type of behaviour and youth disorder.

"We are pleased that this scheme is being recognised for the success it truly is."

However, the plans have attracted criticism from Labour and the Conservatives as well as the National Union of Students Scotland and retail bosses.

Opponents have said the scheme demonises youngsters and infringes upon the rights of responsible young adults.

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02 May 08 |  Scotland


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