An Anglican Bishop has hit out at the Government’s failure to tackle alcohol abuse, an issue he describes as “one of the major sins of our time”.
The Rt Revd Geoff Annas, the Bishop of Stafford, blamed the extension of the licensing laws and called for a “seismic shift in attitudes” towards alcohol, as there has been towards tobacco.
He said successive governments had failed to prevent alcohol abuse, “a problem that blights our society and colours the view the rest of the world has of our nation”.
The Bishop declared that, in hearing countless tragic stories of lives damaged by binge-drinking, it was time for the church and society to speak out.
In a letter published in parish magazines across the Diocese of Lichfield, he said: “Hospital managers, the police and fire services have all told me in recent months of the way alcohol related issues are soaking up ever decreasing resources.”
He added: “When training as a Street Pastor I discovered that 80 per cent of all domestic violence is alcohol related and that 60 per cent of all admissions at A&E on Friday and Saturday evenings are also because of alcohol.”
The former Labour Government introduced round-the-clock drinking in 2005 in the hope it would create a ‘café culture’ in Britain, in a bid to curb binge-drinking. But police chiefs, doctors and judges have criticised the move.
Last May Judge Christopher Harvey Clark QC called for a review of 24-hour licensing laws after becoming frustrated at dealing with cases of drunken violence “almost on a daily basis”.
And last April ex-Met Police chief Sir Ian Blair said the policy of all-day drinking was a “serious mistake”.
He said the aspired ‘café culture’ was never achievable for Britain and now our cities need to be saved from the chaos left behind.
Sir Ian added that the concentration of drinking establishments “has produced a pretty unpleasant atmosphere for almost everybody”.