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Alcohol excess

23 Chwefror 2008


A Cardiff academic has welcomed recent suggestions from medical and policing organisations to help tackle alcohol misuse.

Professor Jonathan Shepherd, Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the School of Dentistry, was reacting to recommendations from bodies such as the British Medical Association (BMA).

In a new report (Alcohol Misuse: Tackling the UK epidemic) the BMA recommends, amongst other initiatives, that higher taxes should be levied on alcoholic drinks to help control alcohol misuse.

Professor Shepherd and his team have researched the effects of drink on violence and his pioneering work won him the 2008 Stockholm Prize in Criminology.

In 2006, his paper ‘Violence-related injury and the price of beer in England and Wales’ was published in the journal Applied Economics. This study found evidence that low alcohol prices increased the risk of injury and violence in England and Wales. The findings also strongly suggested that a one percent increase in the real price of alcohol would lead to an economy-wide reduction in the number of Emergency Department assault cases by 5000 annually.

Professor Shepherd said: "There needs to be much more effort put into reducing alcohol misuse in order to reduce injury. In practical terms raising alcohol prices will have a beneficial effect in reducing violence-related harm and injury throughout England and Wales."

Previous work by Professor Shepherd and his team discovered links between teenage drinking and aggression, as well as identifying drinkers as more at risk of violence because of reduced physical co-ordination, poor decision-making in threatening situations and isolation while out late at night.

This work has helped develop strategies for preventing serious injuries in nightclub and bar violence. Professor Shepherd conducted the first field research comparing the effects of toughened glasses used in fights compared to those of glass which becomes sharp-edged. His work led many UK pubs to switch to toughened glass in the late 1990s, leading to a fall in injuries and more recently a switch to plastic bottles and glasses.

Professor Shepherd convened the Cardiff Violence Prevention Group - a prototype for the Crime Reduction Partnerships now established throughout the UK. He is also director of Cardiff University’s Violence and Society Research Group.