Is festive binge drinking a factor in anti-social behaviour spike?
Over the past few years there has been a spike in anti-social behaviour related crimes within Sunderland City Centre during the Winter period. This poses the question, does the Christmas period have a particular effect on this rise and why?
Statistics from the Police UK Website highlight a spike in Anti-Social behaviour crimes over the Christmas period as well as a noticeable spike in the Summer. The graphs (below) show a breakdown of anti-social behaviour related crimes month by month within Sunderland City Centre. From this information it can be deciphered that in the Summer and Winter months, there are extenuating factors that contribute toward the rise in anti-social behaviour related crimes. Following on from the data of previous years, it can be expected that 2017 will follow in a similar pattern.A rise in anti-social behaviour related crimes and any potential extenuating factors could never be linked to one particular factor, but many people of Sunderland feel that the rise in binge drinking around the Christmas period can in fact lead onto anti-social behaviour and therefore binge drinking can be offered up as a potential factor to the rise in anti-social behaviour related crimes over the winter period.
One scheme in Sunderland set up to combat potential anti-social behaviour in pubs and clubs in our City is Pubwatch.
Pubwatch is a scheme set up to ensure licensed premises within Sunderland City Centre are safe, welcoming and enjoyable venues. The objectives of Pubwatch are to prevent and detect: violence, damage and vandalism, drunkenness, the taking of illegal substances, underage drinking and anti-social behaviour.
Chairman and treasurer of the Pubwatch Scheme Nik Chapman said: "Pubwatch is a group of licensee's who report on criminal behaviour and nominate individuals for exclusion from all premises who are part of the group for a time, dependent on the severity of the crime."
"There is usually a spike in criminal offences over Christmas. In particular drunk and disorderly, sexual offences and assault."
Nik Chapman - Chairman of Pubwatch
Chapman added: "People drink more in the house before coming out as drink is cheaper in supermarkets. They come out tanked up and don't spend as much as they used to, however pubs and clubs have more of the behaviour issues to deal with than ever before."
Pubwatch also liaise with the police in the City. PC Daniel McGwinn, the University of Sunderland campus Police Officer said that "there does seem to be a rise in anti-social behaviour, of a criminal nature in some cases around the Christmas period."
PC McGwinn added: "There is a correlation between binge drinking and anti-social behaviour. Alcohol reduces peoples inhibitions, and gives people courage to do and say things they wouldn't normally. It also sometimes causes people to be unaware of their own actions, and how they affect others. This is demonstrated in people being very noisy in residential areas late at night for example. Drinking to excess or binge drinking only exacerbates this."
Sharon Gilboy, a Sunderland Barmaid believes binge drinking around Christmas does bring with it the tendency for anti-social behaviour. She said: "I do notice an increase in anti-social behaviour over the Christmas period, People definitely drink a lot more than they usually would"
"When there is banter usually other people laugh and joke it off but with excess alcohol things can quickly turn aggressive."
She added: "People definitely tend to drink a lot more over the Christmas period. A lot of places close over Christmas, such as factories and schools, so people know they don't have to go to work, they want to go out and have a good time."
A regular to the Sunderland City Centre nightlife scene, Caitlin Bird, said: "I do feel safe on a night out, but it is really busy around Christmas time so if a fight breaks out things can escalate pretty quickly."
Bird said: "People don't know there limits, with the low drinks prices and the offer of trebles in some bars, it is easier for people to get drunk quicker and that's when the trouble starts."
With 2017's Christmas period upon us, we can be safe in the knowledge that the Christmas period brings with it an increase in police presence in order to combat any potential anti-social behaviour related crimes, and many other crimes that may occur.
PC Dan McGwill said: "There are more police on duty over the Christmas period. The police will usually have extra officers on duty at key periods, such as 'Black Eye Friday' to combat crime and anti-social behaviour. This is both during the day time and at night time."
"There are extra measures taken by the police over the Christmas period to help combat anti-social behaviour. The police will also utilise social media to give advice about anti-social behaviour and socialising safely. We used to help publicise alternative diversionary activities, such as youth clubs, but availability of these has fallen due to council budget cuts" he added.