Scotland’s booze ban: ignoring the obvious answer

The Scottish Government’s plan to ban alcohol off-sales to the under-21s but still allow them to drink in pubs tacitly admits what the real problem is: sales to underage drinkers – a problem with an obvious and simple solution.

As Hamish Macdonnell points out in The Scotsman:

At the end of 2006, there were 17,234 liquor licences in operation in Scotland. A total of 1,380 licensing offences were recorded by the police in 2005-6 and there were 167 convictions. But most of these convictions (83 per cent) resulted in just a fine. Only 30 licences were suspended during the year and only half of these were for off-sales.

In a recent test purchasing exercise, under-age teenagers were served 14 per cent of the time by off-licences. The figures for Lothian and Borders were the most alarming. Of the 51 off-licences tested, 17 failed the test.

What this means is that about a third of off-licences in the Edinburgh area are breaking the law and only about 1 per cent of licensees are having their licences suspended. That cannot be right.

He continues:

Yes, we have a problem with binge drinking, yes we have to do something about it but it would help if the current laws were enforced properly and effectively before we start telling students they either have to go to a party empty-handed or break the law.

It does seem unfair to tell everybody under the age of 21 that they cannot buy alcohol from shops in an attempt to catch an irresponsible minority.

It also seems misguided to change the law before the existing ones have been tried, tested and implemented as they were intended.





0 responses to “Scotland’s booze ban: ignoring the obvious answer”

  1. mupwangle

    The whole drinking thing baffles me. It’s illegal to sell to under 18s. It’s illegal to be severely pissed in a public place. It’s illegal to be served alcohol when drunk. Violence is illegal all the time. It’s illegal to drink in public in many places. It seems that all the solutions are to bring in new laws and pretend we don’t already have the old ones. What’s the point of raising the age to 21 when it is clearly not going to be enforced, since the existing laws aren’t. It is still a ridiculously flawed idea to raise the age for shops and not pubs. Utter idiocy.

  2. Gary

    From The Mirror:

    I believe the age for buying alcohol should be raised to 21 – in fact, the older the better.

    Where I live on the Lakes Estate in Redcar, Cleveland, it’s not unusual to see gangs of 30 or more kids standing around on street corners getting drunk.

    They’re mostly aged between 11 and 15 and their behaviour is atrocious.

    The comment is by “alcohol expert” (says the Mirror) Theresa Cave, whose 17-year-old son was stabbed by a 20-year-old who, reports said at the time, “was grossly affected by drink and drugs”. She goes on to say:

    My son was killed in June 2003 and that would not have happened if his murderer hadn’t been drunk.

    He wanted to get into our Chris’s flat to smoke drugs and Chris wouldn’t let him – so he was stabbed through the heart.

  3. Gary

    Sorry, I was actually going to make a point: so the drinking she’s talking about is already illegal; as far as her own tragedy is concerned, the murderer was off his face on illegal drugs, and was old enough to drink in pubs so the 21-year-old limit wouldn’t have prevented him from getting pissed anyway. How does raising the age do anything about crazed, violent arseholes like that?

  4. mupwangle

    Yeah, but nobody is allowed to say that to her because her son was murdered. In the media you are untouchable on any subject if you have had a child murdered. You are immediately an unquestionable expert on all social problems.

  5. mupwangle

    Vaguely on-topic, but this line from this story ( about a sugar placebo going on sale made me laugh:

    “And there is widespread concern that the pills can be distributed without any clinical trials. ”

    Haven’t we got more clinical test data on placebos than any other thing like ever?

  6. > In the media you are untouchable on any subject if you have had a child murdered.

    Not if you disagree with the journalist, you’re not.