We must tackle ‘dysfunctional’ alcohol culture, says police chief

One of Yorkshire’s most senior police officers has criticised society’s “dysfunctional approach to alcohol” and says crime rates have dropped sharply after Christmas due to a fall in the number of drink-related offences.

Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick of North Yorkshire Police

Tim Madgwick, North Yorkshire Police’s deputy chief constable, said the numbers of public order offences, assaults, domestic violence and some sexual offences had declined by around 30 per cent in the county now that the festive holiday period is over

More than 100 people were arrested for drink and drug-driving offences in North Yorkshire last month, the force revealed today, a number Mr Madgwick described as “staggering” and “extremely frustrating”.

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He said on Twitter this week: “Daily crime figures show sharp decline as soon as alcohol fuelled offences slow down. Our society has a dysfunctional approach to alcohol.”

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Mr Magdwick said the drop was due to “people’s use of alcohol”, a fact which created a policing challenge not faced by other European countries.

He said: “It is often people who are not going out with criminal intent but lose any sense of appropriate behaviour or consideration for other people. Clearly we have developed this problem where you can’t go out and enjoy yourself without taking on a certain amount of alcohol.

“It makes people more vulnerable to being victims of crime as well. I am not saying we can’t do anything about it but I think it is going to take a long time to tackle this culture.”

North Yorkshire Police said today that it made 103 arrests for drink and drug driving as part of the festive crackdown between December 1 and January 1, with 61 people charged. A total of 2,927 roadside breath tests were carried out.

During the same period in 2013, officers arrested 118 people and conducted 2.026 breath tests, while there were 114 arrests and 3,455 breath tests in 2012.

Mr Madgwick vowed that the fight against drink-driving would continue this year and urged residents in the county to report anyone they suspect is getting behind the wheel while impaired.

He said: “I am extremely frustrated that over 100 people in December thought it was acceptable to put lives at risk by getting behind the wheel while suspected of being under the influence of drink or drugs.

“I find it staggering that, despite repeated warnings and well documented tragedies caused by drink and drug driving, there are still people out there who ignore the dangers.”

In West Yorkshire, 149 people were arrested for drink or drug-driving offences during December, down from 189 for the same period in 2013.

The Yorkshire Post reported this week that middle-aged drinkers on the verge of alcohol abuse will be targeted by GPs as part of a new strategy aimed at tackling North Yorkshire’s “irresponsible drinking culture”.

Almost 200 people die each year in North Yorkshire as a result of alcohol, and with alcohol-related hospital admissions increasing each year a new county-wide strategy for tackling abuse has been published by public health experts.