A new report released today by Alcohol Concern has highlighted the need for alcohol to be made a higher priority when it comes to risky behaviour among young people.

The report, Alcohol in the system, was formed by engaging young people with lived experience of the criminal justice system. It highlights that alcohol should be treated as a public health issue, rather than purely a criminal justice issue.  

One of the recommendations from the report is the need to implement a pilot for a peer court throughout London. The peer court, made up of other young people, is an innovative scheme which could see many avoiding a criminal record while being steered away from anti-social behaviour and other crimes. The initiative would be based on the Hampshire model for low level offences, which includes alcohol related offences.

Joanna Simons, Chief Executive of Alcohol Concern, said: “We have a society where alcohol is readily available and sold at pocket money prices, and we shouldn’t be surprised if for some young people their first experiences of alcohol can have lifelong consequences. Wherever possible alcohol misuse should be seen as health issue and more alternatives to a criminal record should be offered to the young person.

“It’s important that identifying alcohol use and not just focusing on illegal drugs is a priority for those working with young people at risk of offending and young offenders, all staff need appropriate training so they are able to recognise risky drinking and can offer the right support and guidance.”

Notes to editors

Alcohol in the system was funded by Trust for London to develop a 12 month project exploring the link between alcohol consumption amongst young people and youth offending.

This project aimed to place young people known to the criminal justice system and who had drunk alcohol at the heart of the project. The full report is available to read here.