Britain’s binge drinking culture is to blame for the rise of violence plaguing our communities, a senior judge has said.
“Ordinary, decent people” have been left too scared to walk the streets at night because of alcohol-fuelled yobs, warned District Judge Alan Berg.
Judge Berg, speaking after jailing a female student who he labelled a “drunken barbarian”, raised concern that young people, especially women, were now going out with the “sole purpose of getting hopelessly drunk”.
He said: “I don’t see why ordinary decent people should be deprived of the pleasure of walking safely without feeling intimidated, without having to witness raucous behaviour, alcohol-fuelled yobs at night time in city centres.”
He added: “I don’t see why ordinary people should have to witness violence, should have to step over prone bodies lying on the floor unconscious, or have to slip on vomit. It is a sad state of affairs.”
His comments are likely to fuel further criticism of Labour’s disastrous 24-hour licensing laws, which will be reviewed by the new Home Secretary, Theresa May.
Judge Berg, the most senior law official at Manchester magistrates’ court, expressed despair at people filling their “empty lives” with alcohol.
He said: “People who live empty lives fill that void by consuming copious amounts of alcohol to a point where they become violent.
“They become aggressive. They behave in an unacceptable, anti-social way. There is a disease in my view – it has become a plague”, he warned.
Judge Berg added: “Particularly on Friday and Saturday night, young people go out with the sole purpose of getting hopelessly drunk.
“If they can’t remember what they’ve done for the last 24 hours, then they’ve had a good night out.
Judge Berg has been an outspoken critic on alcohol-fuelled violence in the past, urging politicians and families to do more to stop society from sliding into “utter chaos”.
Earlier this month Judge Berg jailed 20-year-old student Melissa Massey after she drunkenly attacked a paramedic giving her treatment while she lay sprawled on a pavement.
Judge Berg, who has presided over thousands of cases during the last 18 years, said there had been a sharp rise in cases involving drunken young women engaged in violence.
“There is this ladette culture which creates these problems”, he said. “There is a culture among a certain sector of female society of drinking until they are senseless.”
Last week the new Home Secretary ordered a “complete review” of the nation’s disastrous 24-hour drinking laws in a bid to curb binge drinking.
The review raises the prospect that the law on 24-hour drinking will either be tightened up or scrapped.
Speaking at the Police Federation conference earlier last week, Home Secretary Theresa May said: “I was in Opposition when the new laws were introduced and I argued against them precisely because of the problems we have seen.
“I argued that those were the sorts of problems that would come about but I was told that we would have a ‘café culture’. We think they have produced problems on the streets.
“There are some other issues to look at around the binge-drinking culture that has grown up. We think it is right that we do review these laws.”
Earlier this month another top judge blasted 24-hour licensing laws after sentencing yet another yob for a late night drunken brawl.
Judge Christopher Harvey Clark QC called for a review of the laws after becoming frustrated at dealing with cases of drunken violence “almost on a daily basis”.
Judge Harvey Clark, speaking after sentencing a 31-year-old former soldier from Bournemouth for a drunken brawl, said: “Speaking as someone who has to deal with such violence, almost on a daily basis, there is far too much violence and drunkenness on the streets of Bournemouth late at night.
“It may, in part, be due to the relaxation of the licensing laws. I would hope that relaxation is reviewed in the foreseeable future.”