Borders is hit with sobering £30million bar bill
Councillor Michelle Ballantyne.
THE true cost of boozing in the Borders has been revealed for the very first time.
Drunken trouble, accidents and alcohol-related illnesses are costing the region millions every month.
Now a detailed study has been completed in a bid to battle our booze culture.
And it makes for sobering reading.
The files, which include all local police, fire, ambulance and hospital activity throughout June when alcohol is involved, will be presented to the region's Licensing Forum this (Wednesday) afternoon.
Councillor Michelle Ballantyne chairs the Forum. She told us: "There have been national studies done in the past but this is the first detailed data capture in the Scottish Borders - and the cost is enormous.
"We have been battling against this for a long time but it's going to take a culture change. I don't think people realise what is costs when they get drunk, fall over in the street and end up in Accident and Emergency."
Throughout June 155 attendances at Borders General Hospital's were down to booze - costing an average of £111 per case. More than a third of them required admission to an acute ward at an extra cost of almost £2,000.
Alcohol Focus Scotland estimates the total cost on health services in the Borders is close to £4.5 million for the year. As well as 10 under-age teenagers the hospital also dealt with four locals over the age of 80 for drink-related accidents and emergencies.
Lothian and Borders Police found that one in eight incidents throughout June were down to excessive drinking - a total of 357 incidents.
The figures were inflated by the summer festival with 11 incidents taking place at the Braw Lads' Gathering, 10 at Hawick Common Riding, five at Chirnside Civic Week and three at Selkirk Common Riding.
But figures provided by Alcohol Focus still show that around £11 million is used up fighting booze-related crime.
Scottish Borders Commander, Superintendent Andrew Allan said: "Alcohol is a significant issue for the police across the Scottish Borders. It affects our work in all our priorities - directly in terms of Antisocial behaviour, often a factor in sexual and domestic violence, a large number of the shop-lifting thefts are of alcohol and we continue to see far too many drink drive cases.
"The costs referred to in the survey are very real. Police officers are often dealing with the immediate and after effects of alcohol, as are our health, fire and council partners.
"It is the human costs that are harder to quantify; unnecessary victims of violent offences, loved ones killed in collisions caused by drink and young people still being brought up thinking that drinking to excess at the weekend is a culture."
One fire, in Tweedbank, was also down to drinking - costing the local fire service over £5,000.
The annual cost for social care - mainly provided by the local authority - is estimated to be swollen by over £5 million each year by alcohol-related conditions.
And the figures show that over £10 million is lost in the Borders due to absenteeism from work, performance negativity, and premature death. The total bar bill is stated as £270 per head.
This article appeared in Border Telegraph 23 Oct 12
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