A ban on drinks promotions and a minimum price for alcohol is needed to tackle the growing problem of drink-fuelled antisocial behaviour, a group of MPs has said.

The Home Affairs Select Committee report, Policing in the 21st century, said that alcohol-related disorder was placing a "heavy burden" on police, and diverting officers from fighting more serious crimes.

The report highlighted a 25% increase in serious violent crimes committed between 3am and 6am, and pointed to British Crime Survey figures showing that 45% of victims of violence say their assailant was under the influence of alcohol.

Commenting on the report, Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) chief executive James Lowman, who gave evidence at an inquiry hearing, said: "The report raises concerns that the Licensing Act 2003 could work better to tackle problems and that this can be achieved through more effective use of licence reviews and licensing conditions. We agree, and have consistently called for a focus on improving the skills of local authorities to use the Licensing Act 2003 effectively."

MPs rejected increasing the legal drinking age to 21 on the grounds it would "unfairly penalise young people" who drank responsibly. There was also no evidence to suggest that teenage drinkers caused more problems for the police than those in their early 20s, the report said.

The Liberal Democrats have also proposed a stategy to tackle the UK's drink problems. Their report, Tackling Booze Britain, also calls for minimum pricing and an end to "irresponsible" drink promotions. A 'one strike and you're out' policy for retailers and pubs who sell alcohol to under-18s is also suggested.

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