Research linking off licence density to underage drinking has been rubbished by retailers.
Compiled by Alcohol Concern, the report, One on every corner, claimed that a “moderately but statistically significant relationship” existed across the England (excluding London) between the number of hospital admissions by underage drinkers for alcohol poisoning or intoxication and the number of off licences in an area.
Alcohol Concern chief executive Don Shenker said it was “a sobering thought that the numbers of off licences in any one area has an impact on under-18s drinking and ending up in hospital”. He called on the government to control the number of off licences in the country.
The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) said the group’s claims “do not make sense”.
“Alcohol Concern’s suggestion that their report shows that there is a relationship between the number of off licences and the drinking behaviour of young people does not make sense,” said ACS public affairs director Shane Brennan. “The report found that the statistical relationship between underage alcohol related hospital admissions was ‘moderate’ and they suggest if the report had included London the evidence did not support their conclusion.”
Brennan added that the report also showed how off licences had helped prevent underage purchases of alcohol and that overall the percentage of young people drinking was decreasing.
“There are already tough alcohol licensing laws in place and any premises that is deemed to be a risk of supplying alcohol to under-18s can have their licence restricted or removed,” he said. “We have seen great success in recent years where businesses, communities and the local authorities come together to bear down on underage drinking. Successful initiatives like Community Alcohol Partnerships are the way to provide sustainable solutions and we will be urging Ministers to focus on continuing this success when they prepare their new alcohol strategy.”