Herald Scotland (Scotland) – Police chief challenges minimum drink price opponents

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The chief constable of the country’s biggest police force has issued a challenge to those who voted down minimum alcohol pricing this week to come up with an alternative.

Stephen House’s highly personal intervention will put further pressure on the Labour, Tory and Liberal Democrat opponents of the measure when it comes to a final vote by the full Parliament later this year.

In a letter published in The Herald today, the Strathclyde chief constable writes: “I have never said that I know minimum pricing is the answer but I have said that we must do something.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to the social, economic or health problems caused by the over-consumption of alcohol in Scotland.”

Dr Evelyn Gillan, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: “The opposition parties have voted down minimum pricing without putting any credible alternative on the table.”

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “Stephen House knows only too well the devastating effects of Scotland’s unbalanced relationship with alcohol – and he is right to pose the question of what alternatives there are to our proposals.”

Tory health spokeswoman Mary Scanlon said that alongside banning below-cost-price sales, the most effective method would be to target problem drinks with extra tax and duty.

Labour’s Jackie Baillie said her party fully supported measures to stop retailers selling alcohol at irresponsibly low prices.

LibDem health spokesman Ross Finnie said he agreed with Mr House.

Source: Herald Scotland (Scotland), 25/09/10