Elish Angiolini warns of booze crime 'apocalypse'


The head of the prosecution service has warned of an "apocalypse" of alcohol-fuelled crime unless Scotland curbs its hard-drinking culture.

Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini told BBC Scotland that reducing the availability of cheap alcohol would help tackle the problem.

She said alcohol played a part in almost every violent crime in Scotland.

Ms Angiolini said the country faced a "real apocalypse" unless it "gets to grips" with over-consumption.

In the BBC interview, Ms Angiolini, who has announced she intends to step down after the Scottish elections in May, said continental style licensing laws, with longer opening hours, had not worked.

"Common sense" suggested reducing the availability of alcohol would reduce consumption and that making it more expensive would be one way of achieving that, she added.

The Scottish government tried to introduce a minimum price of 45p per unit of alcohol but the measure was thrown out by the Scottish Parliament.

Very acute increase

Ms Angiolini, who has been lord advocate for almost five years, said it was not her job as a prosecutor to provide the solutions to the problem.

However, she added: "I do think price is a factor. I don't think it is a panacea."

She added that education and a change in the culture around alcohol could have an effect.

"But we have tried the continental approach to alcohol of having longer hours and cafe culture and I don't think it has worked," she said.

"If you look at the liberalisation of the licensing laws in the mid-70s and the consumption of alcohol there is a very acute increase from that period."

The 50-year-old prosecutor said that when she was a teenager in the 1970s the price of a bottle of vodka would have been "prohibitive", costing the equivalent of about £45 at today's prices.

"What I see now, in many cases, is both the accused and indeed victims purchasing very substantial quantities of very cheap alcohol," she said.

"It is consumed on a night out in quantities which, quite frankly, are fatal.

"I think that is something which is seen throughout the country."

She added: "It is a major health issue for the young people but from my own very narrow perspective, in terms of crime, there is a real apocalypse if we don't actually get to grips with the acceleration of the consumption of alcohol."

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