Recorded offences linked to alcohol sale falls

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The number of recorded offences linked to sale and supply of alcohol has plummeted according to new figures, leading to fresh fears that gardaí do not have adequate resources to police it.

New figures provided by the CSO to the Irish Examiner show the number of recorded liquor offences has fallen from 3,285 in 2009 to 2,343 last year.

The largest category, liquor licensing offences, saw a fall in recorded cases from 2,827 in 2009 to 1,639 last year. That includes offences from illegal opening times to disorderly conduct, and can also include offences related to the selling, buying and provision of alcohol to people who are underage.

While the overall number of recorded liquor has fallen dramatically, the number of specific offences for sale of intoxicating liquor to under-18-year-olds rose to 96 last year, compared with just 25 in 2010 and 11 in 2009.

The number of offences uncovered in restaurants also rose from none in 2009 to three in 2010 and nine last year.

Elsewhere, recorded offences have fallen. There were 69 recorded offences of provision of intoxicating liquor to those under-18  — essentially adults buying alcohol for teenagers  — last year, a reduction from 76 in 2010.

There were 522 cases of under-18s buying alcohol last year, down from 675 in 2010. In the first quarter of this year there were 166 such offences recorded, as well as 11 cases of provision of alcohol to underage people and 21 offences of selling alcohol to those who are underage.

The overall drop in the number of recorded offences comes amid growing public concern over underage drinking, highlighted by the recent Swedish House Mafia concert in the Phoenix Park where members of the public expressed alarm at the high rate of underage drinking on display.

Fiona Ryan, chief executive of Alcohol Action Ireland, said: “While an increase in prosecutions for selling alcohol to teenagers is to be welcomed, it does beg the question if this is just a small sample of a much wider ranging problem. Over 80% of teenagers in Ireland tell us they have no problems accessing alcohol.

“In the most recent survey of over 2,000 15- and 16-year-olds, they say it is actually easy or fairly easy to get alcohol with one in four saying they have bought alcohol from an off-license or supermarket while 37% say they have bought it in a pub or nightclub.

“Illegal sales to teenagers by retailers have to be tackled and considering the scale of the problem it would suggest the figure is much greater than the number of recorded offences.”

She said many teenagers get alcohol from older siblings and friends facilitated by retailers selling alcohol at “pocket money” prices.

“The price at which the cheapest alcohol is being sold means teenagers need to spend very little to get very drunk  — as little as  €8 to  €10,” she said. “We need to enforce existing legislation and bring up the price of the cheapest alcohol and ensure there is a minimum price it cannot be sold below if we are serious about safeguarding teenagers ’ health and wellbeing.”