The Guardian 28 June 2015
Imposing a minimum unit price for alcohol leads to a dramatic fall in drink-related crime, including murders, sexual assaults and drink-driving, a new study shows.
Crimes perpetrated against people, including violent assaults, fell by 9.17% when the price of alcohol was increased by 10% over nine years in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Motoring offences linked to alcohol, such as killing or injuring someone with a vehicle and refusing to take a breath test, fell even more – by 18.8% – the study found.
The findings are the latest evidence that introducing a minimum unit price, a policy that David Cameron championed but later abandoned, yields major benefits. Previous studies have already shown that the policy cuts alcohol-related hospital admissions, saves lives and reduces consumption.
The research, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, shows how the big falls in those two types of crime occurred between 2002 and 2010 after the government of British Columbia put up the “floor price” of alcohol – that is, the legal minimum it can be sold for – by 10%.
“Strong associations were observed between the values of minimum alcohol prices and both alcohol-related traffic violations and crimes against persons,” the seven authors write. They were led by Professor Tim Stockwell, an international expert in minimum unit pricing, who is the director of the Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia.