“Increasingly rampant” underage drinking is having a devastating impact on our society, a new report by an alcohol awareness charity shows.
Amongst the report’s shocking findings, charity Alcohol Concern says that more girls than boys were admitted to hospital for alcohol problems between 2004 and 2009.
An average of 13 girls a day were admitted to hospital from A&E during the time period compared with 10 boys a day, according to the report.
Alcohol Concern’s publication, entitled Right Time, Right Place, shows over the last seven years an average of 36 children a day were admitted to hospital due to alcohol.
The charity also says underage drinkers consume “approximately the equivalent of 6.9 million pints of beer or 1.7 million bottles of wine each week”.
The group’s report said: “Whilst some indicators suggest the beginning of a decrease in consumption and harm trends, the overall picture from the last five to 10 years is one of increasingly rampant drinking and significant rises in the harms that are associated with alcohol use.”
Alcohol Concern also warns against the current heavy promotion of alcohol, saying that if it continues “young drinkers will continue to consume far more than they might otherwise”.
And the charity’s Chief Executive, Don Shenker said the “ludicrously cheap price of alcohol” needs to be tackled.
Professor Jonathan Shepherd of Cardiff University commented: “Any emergency treatment for a child as a result of alcohol intoxication comes as a shock.”
Chris Sorek, Chief Executive of another alcohol awareness charity, Drinkaware, cautioned that under 18-year-olds still have developing bodies, and said: “even drinking small amounts of alcohol is risky for children”.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “This report shows the devastating impact that alcohol has on the lives young people who drink too much.
“We must educate them so they understand how bad it is for their health now and in the long term. And we must do more to stop shops selling alcohol to under 18s.
“Everyone has a part to play in this. Parents, police, education and social services need to work together.”
In July Theresa May, the Home Secretary, warned that 24-hour drinking laws introduced by the previous Labour Government had failed.
Mrs May’s comments came as the Home Office announced a consultation to give communities a greater say over alcohol licences.
Fines for those who persistently sell booze to children would be doubled to £20,000 under the proposals.
And councils could be given powers to charge more for late-night licences. The Government says this would help pay for more policing.