The buck stops with the monks

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WHENEVER teenage drinking and the associated problems of violent behaviour are raised, it is never long before Buckfast is mentioned. The rather sickly drink, marketed as a tonic wine, is consumed in large quantities by teenagers across the country, but particularly in certain parts of west central Scotland. As a consequence, "Buckie" has been named and shamed by many politicians as the cause of drunken and unacceptable teenage behaviour.

Now has come evidence that the police believe this to be the case as well. A Freedom of Information request has found that Buckfast has specifically been mentioned in 5,000 crime reports in the Strathclyde area in the past three years. In more than 100 cases, the Buckfast bottle was named as a weapon.

The same might well be true for any number of other alcoholic drinks. But what appears to mark Buckfast out from the crowd is the extraordinarily high concentration of caffeine in it. According to medical testimony, the mix of caffeine and alcohol is liable to have disturbing effects on anyone drinking large quantities.

The representative of the Benedictine monks who make the drink may be right to argue that they cannot be held to account for the irresponsible consumption of their product. But to say that they will change nothing is unacceptable. It is time for the monks to emerge from their cloisters and discuss what they can do to reduce the drink's potency and its socially damaging side-effects.

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