LABOUR AM, KEN SKATES, has called on the Welsh Government to tackle the impact alcohol-related problems are heaving on communities in North East Wales.
Speaking during First Minister’s questions on Tuesday, the Clwyd South AM welcomed the Welsh Government’s “Don’t let drink sneak up on you” campaign to improve people’s awareness of how much alcohol they consume but said those suffering from addiction needed better support.
In 2011, Wrexham suffered the biggest increase in alcohol-related crime in North Wales, recording 43 more incidents from April to September 2011 compared to 2010.
CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES said: “We know that alcohol is one of the three highest risk factors for reduced life expectancy and linked to a whole host of preventable diseases. More than this it also affects other people quite significantly and is having a clear impact on communities in North East Wales.
“In 2011, Wrexham suffered the biggest increase in alcohol-related crime in North Wales, recording 43 more incidents from April to September 2011 compared to 2010.
“The worrying thing is that often these problems start at an early age. A recent report by Alcohol Concern highlighted that children as young as 10 in North Wales are more able to recognise alcoholic drinks brands than those of best-selling ice creams or cakes.
“The issue highlights a wider problem we have with drink in Wales, with the cost to the NHS of excess alcohol consumption believed upwards of £69m a year. Tackling the problem of excessive drinking and the impact it has on the health of our nation is probably the number one public health challenge we face in 2012.
“There is an established link between issues like crime, mental health problems, domestic abuse and alcohol, and in some areas like North East Wales this is causing real problems in our communities.
“We need to work closely with our local authorities, the local health board, the police and the licensing trade to make our communities safer and make sure individuals with drink-related problems get the help they need.”
Latest figures show there were almost 500 alcohol-related deaths in Wales in 2010. Based on the worst case scenario published in The Lancet, annual deaths could exceed 700 a year in Wales over the course of the next two decades, equivalent to 14,000 in the 20-year period.
More information on the Welsh Government’s “Don’t let drink sneak up on you” can be found at: www.change4lifewales.org.uk