Very young Londoners drinking 180,000 bottles of beer a week

This just one of the shocking facts that has come out of the London Assembly’s Health & Public Services Committee report into youth problem drinking “Too much, too young?”.

I have chaired the committee’s work in this area over the last 10 months and we have completed the first comprehensive assessment of young London’s drinking habits, the news isn’t good.
11-15 year olds drink the equivalent of 180,000 bottles of beer each week, more than a third of 11-21 year olds drink regularly compared to one in five who did so in 1996-1999. Young women and girls are catching up with the drinking habits of boys with the number alcohol related hospital admissions for 11-21 year old women more than tripling since 2002.
It’s not all bad news, Bexley council have shown that tough licencing enforcement and good relations with police and alcohol retailers have seen a significant reduction in underage drinking and Croydon are launching a Community Alcohol Partnership to reduce the problem in New Addington.
A copy of the draft report can be found at the committee’s website.
Some of the coverage of the report’s findings:

12 responses to “Very young Londoners drinking 180,000 bottles of beer a week

  1. Whilst I am sure there is a problem with underage drinking I object to headline statistics such as: more than a third of 11-21 year olds drink regularly compared to one in five who did so in 1996-1999

    One third of 11-21 year olds are over 18 and are prefectly entitled to drink. Regularly may mean once or twice a week, and that is well within government guidelines.

    The other statistics are equally useless. 'Tripling of hospital admissions' could be from 2 people to 6 people. 180,000 bottles of beer per week tells us nothing about the consumption per person or the age spread within the 11-21 year old group.

    All these statistics are designed for headlines to make us think that drinking is a pandemic, not from meaningful debate on the real problems.

  2. Whilst I am sure there is a problem with underage drinking I object to headline statistics such as: more than a third of 11-21 year olds drink regularly compared to one in five who did so in 1996-1999

    One third of 11-21 year olds are over 18 and are prefectly entitled to drink. Regularly may mean once or twice a week, and that is well within government guidelines.

    The other statistics are equally useless. 'Tripling of hospital admissions' could be from 2 people to 6 people. 180,000 bottles of beer per week tells us nothing about the consumption per person or the age spread within the 11-21 year old group.

    All these statistics are designed for headlines to make us think that drinking is a pandemic, not from meaningful debate on the real problems.

  3. Ironic choice of title for the report. The song “Too much, too young” is not trying to persuade young people to settle down and be sensible.

  4. Ironic choice of title for the report. The song “Too much, too young” is not trying to persuade young people to settle down and be sensible.

  5. A good many years ago, I used to run an off-license in a town with a substantial influx of teenagers at weekends.

    While obviously, there are some rogue elements in the retail trade, the vast majority comply with the law, and the local police soon learn who are the rogues to be clamped down on.

    However, the biggest problem is not naughty retailers, but other customers who are happy to help the kids get their drinks.

    I would often have minors come in to buy a quarter of vodka (etc) and get rebuffed, only to then have an adult pop in minutes later for exactly the same order plus a packet of cigarettes.

    The annoying thing is, that we the retailer serving the adult were then still held legally liable if that adult later passed the drink to the minors within a certain distance from our store.

    To protect our license, we would either refuse to serve the customer, or have to follow them out of the shop and reclaim the goods from the minor.

    Refunds were offered to the minor, if confirmed by phone call to their parents – which oddly they seemed loathe to agree to. The local police rather liked that approach as well 🙂

    Anyhow, please remember that in addition to the occasional rogue retailer, there is a far larger number of rogue adults who are happy to help kids get drunk in exchange for a packet of ciggies.

    Maybe focusing some attention on them would help.

  6. A good many years ago, I used to run an off-license in a town with a substantial influx of teenagers at weekends.

    While obviously, there are some rogue elements in the retail trade, the vast majority comply with the law, and the local police soon learn who are the rogues to be clamped down on.

    However, the biggest problem is not naughty retailers, but other customers who are happy to help the kids get their drinks.

    I would often have minors come in to buy a quarter of vodka (etc) and get rebuffed, only to then have an adult pop in minutes later for exactly the same order plus a packet of cigarettes.

    The annoying thing is, that we the retailer serving the adult were then still held legally liable if that adult later passed the drink to the minors within a certain distance from our store.

    To protect our license, we would either refuse to serve the customer, or have to follow them out of the shop and reclaim the goods from the minor.

    Refunds were offered to the minor, if confirmed by phone call to their parents – which oddly they seemed loathe to agree to. The local police rather liked that approach as well 🙂

    Anyhow, please remember that in addition to the occasional rogue retailer, there is a far larger number of rogue adults who are happy to help kids get drunk in exchange for a packet of ciggies.

    Maybe focusing some attention on them would help.

  7. I have to say that this is unnecessarily alarmist, James.

    Whilst there is a problem with alcohol abuse in certain sections of society, it is endemic across all age groups, not just the young.

    And please wise up – young people tend to exaggerate things when asked about them, be it the amount that they drink or the amount of sex they've had. Don't take everything as gospel.

    You're a sensible politician James, I expect more from you than this type of sensationalist rubbish.

  8. I have to say that this is unnecessarily alarmist, James.

    Whilst there is a problem with alcohol abuse in certain sections of society, it is endemic across all age groups, not just the young.

    And please wise up – young people tend to exaggerate things when asked about them, be it the amount that they drink or the amount of sex they've had. Don't take everything as gospel.

    You're a sensible politician James, I expect more from you than this type of sensationalist rubbish.

  9. Ever noticed that alcoholism is far more rife in commie countries? Just look at the Russians, sozzled old losers with nothing better to do than drown their sorrows. So it's no surprise that since 1997 under this commie government drinking to forget has increased drastically.

    Boot out the commies, solve the problem!

  10. Ever noticed that alcoholism is far more rife in commie countries? Just look at the Russians, sozzled old losers with nothing better to do than drown their sorrows. So it's no surprise that since 1997 under this commie government drinking to forget has increased drastically.

    Boot out the commies, solve the problem!

  11. Unfortunately the downfall of communism in Russia has not led to a reduction in alcoholism. The best solution is strict Saudi style Islamic laws and corporal punishment for anybody caught drinking alcohol.

    If you are going to solve the problem of alcohol in society by a change to the political system you might as well go the whole hog.

  12. Unfortunately the downfall of communism in Russia has not led to a reduction in alcoholism. The best solution is strict Saudi style Islamic laws and corporal punishment for anybody caught drinking alcohol.

    If you are going to solve the problem of alcohol in society by a change to the political system you might as well go the whole hog.

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