Glasgow & West Scotland

Police chief blames alcohol for 14 murders

Bottles of alcohol
Image caption Retailers have been urged to act responsibly with drinks promotions

The head of Scotland's biggest police force has said alcohol played a major role in 14 murders in his area in the past 10 weeks.

Stephen House, the chief constable of Strathclyde Police, said that in many cases both the perpetrators and the victims were drunk.

The chief constable said a recent trend had seen violence associated with house parties rather than pubs.

He also said drink-fuelled violence could escalate during the World Cup.

Mr House revealed 14 out of 18 murders across Strathclyde since 1 April had been drink-related.

He told BBC Radio Scotland that an increasing trend of people buying cheap alcohol to drink at house parties rather than going to the pub was contributing to violent crime and anti-social behaviour.

He said: "We've seen a trend in the last few years of an increase in violence associated with drink parties and a move away from proper licensed premises.

"In fact over the weekend just gone we had 31 serious assaults across Strathclyde, only two of those were actually in licensed premises.

"We are seeing that licensed premises are actually better run and safer places to be than these house parties that can get out of control and go on for hours."

The police chief said there were ways his officers could tackle drink-related violence but others also had to "step up to the mark".

He called for supermarkets and off-licences to act responsibly and look at raising their prices.

Mr House added: "We know that the violence is driven by drink. We see the death and the misery and the lives ruined. Something has to be done about it.

"I try not to get frustrated but it is my cops, the people in the NHS and the ambulance crews who are picking up the pieces on a daily basis.

"It is really the cheap alcohol that is the problem. It is what is being purchased from supermarkets and off-licence chains at a ridiculously low price."

Minimum pricing

The senior officer's comments came as the economic, health and social consequences of drinking alcohol, and the Scottish Government's strategy to tackle the country's drinking culture, was being considered at a conference in Edinburgh.

It is estimated that alcohol-related problems cost the Scottish economy £3.6bn every year.

Speaking at the event Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said the spate of alcohol-fuelled murders in Strathclyde revealed the scale of harm caused by alcohol abuse.

She said minimum pricing was the best way of reducing consumption and cutting crime.

Image caption Drink related violence could increase during the World Cup

Senior police officers have promised to crackdown on irresponsible drinking during the football World Cup, which begins on Friday.

Ch Supt Graham Cairns, divisional commander for North Lanarkshire, said: "I have no doubt that people will be drinking more alcohol than usual.

"Unfortunately, there is an undeniable link between drinking too much and the issues of violence and anti-social behaviour in our communities."

He also vowed to come down hard on licence holders and staff who supply alcohol to drunk people.

He added: "There will be a robust approach from officers, if licence holders and their staff are not adhering to the law they will be reported to the North Lanarkshire Council licensing board with the intention of having the licence for the premises suspended.

"We are committed to making a positive impact on the levels of violence and anti-social behaviour associated with excess alcohol consumption and we need everyone to play their part."

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