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Alcohol Consumption in the UK


  • Nearly 9 in 10 adults in Britain (89%) are unaware that British people are drinking less than they were a decade ago.
  • Rates of binge drinking – drinking double the recommended guidelines in one day/session – have dropped significantly with the steepest fall among 16-24 year olds.
  • The proportion of men aged 16-24 binge drinking declined 31% between 2005 and 2012 while for women of the same age the drop was 37%.
  • The number of people drinking on five or more days per week has fallen since 2005, from 22% to 14% for men, and from 13% to 9% for women.
  • Alcohol consumption per capita adult (15+) is also down by 18.1% since 2004 according to the latest figures published by the British Beer and Pub Association.
  • Comparable data across 24 European countries (from 2011, the latest available figures) ranks the UK below the European average and below countries including France, Germany and Spain.
  • When respondents were informed and asked about reasons for this change, the British public cited that we are becoming more health conscious and drink less as part of a healthier lifestyle (46%) followed by changing social norms making binge drinking socially unacceptable (33%).
  • Other factors included changing population demographics among ethnic groups (24%), increased information and education about alcohol consumption (16%) better law enforcement (16%) and wider availability of no/low alcohol drinks (16%).
  • Full citations for all data referenced are available in the press release.
  • Changing Drinking Habits


Alcohol and the Law


  • All crimes involving alcohol are falling in every region across the country. Violent crime linked to alcohol has fallen by 32% since 2004, and has almost halved since 1995, with a 47% drop.
  • Alcohol-related road traffic accidents have fallen by 44%, fatal accidents by 53% and roadside breath test failures by 19% since 2000.
  • The British public most commonly cited better town centre management (40%), a society less tolerant of anti-social behaviour (38%) and more effective partnership working between police, local authorities, communities and businesses (31%) as reasons for the decline.
  • Public respondents to the poll were most likely to name the police as being contributors to partnerships tackling alcohol-related crime in their local area (57%), followed by bars, pubs and restaurants (45%) and local authorities (36%).
  • The poll also questioned a sample of police officers in England and Wales, who said the police force contribute to this partnership (77%), followed by local authorities (53%) and licensed premises such as bars, pubs and restaurants (51%).
  • The police officers surveyed cited better town centre management as the leading reason for the reduction in anti-social behaviour (42%), followed by police, local authorities, communities and businesses working together more effectively (41%) and society becoming less tolerant to anti-social behavior (34%). 64% said that they felt effective partnership working between police, local authorities and licensed premises had increased over the last decade.
  • Police officers surveyed cited lower standards of living (60%), weaker local economy e.g. limited employment opportunities (57%), a lack of education/ information about the risks of alcohol abuse (39%) and lack of an effective partnership between police, local authorities, communities and businesses (26%), as reasons for the higher rates of alcohol related crime in certain regions.
  • Full citations for all data referenced are available in the Alcohol and the Law press release.
  • Alcohol and the Law


Alcohol and Young People


  • More than nine out of 10 (96%) parents in England are unaware of the decline in alcohol consumption among 11-15 year-olds in the past 10 years.
  • The proportion of 11-15 year olds having ever tried alcohol has fallen by 34% since 2004, and the number who think it is ‘okay’ to drink alcohol once a week has dropped by 33%.
  • 96% of parents were unaware of this sustained decline.
  • More than half (57%) said pubs and shops had become stricter against underage drinking.
  • Other reasons cited by parents included the rise of social media and new technologies providing other things for young people to do (25%); increasing diversity in the UK among ethnic groups who are forbidden from drinking alcohol (20%); increased use of alcohol labels and public health messaging, information and education (15%) and young people are rebelling against their parents' generation, which had a more liberal approach to drinking alcohol (12%).
  • 75% of 11-15 year olds get alcohol from family or friends. 19% obtain alcohol from strangers and only 5% cite pubs or shops. Parents’ perceptions about where children source alcohol from were broadly in line with this.
  • Full citations for all data referenced are available in the press release.
  • Alcohol and Young People                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           


How Business Promotes Responsible Drinking in Local Communities

Pubs, Bars, Clubs and Restaurants


  • Nationally accredited training for bar staff, unit and health information at the point of sale, and operation of Challenge 21 to prevent underage sales

  • Lower ABV% house wines, beers and ciders available in pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants

  • Pubwatch, Best Bar None, Purple Flag, Business Improvement Districts and the PASS scheme

  • New alcohol sponsorship code to promote responsible drinking

    Shops and Supermarkets

  • Health information on 80% of product labels

  • Lower alcohol beer, wine, and cider available, lower ABV% own brand products, and smaller container sizes available

  • Preventing underage sales with Challenge 25 and nationally accredited training for staff serving drinks

  • Responsible retail guidelines

  • Community Alcohol Partnerships and Business Improvement Districts


  • Funding for the independent Lifeskills Education and Alcohol Foundation (LEAF)

  • No alcohol advertisements on posters within 100m of schools

  • Ban on alcohol marketing to children

  •  Business and Community