Drink crackdown 'helped cut offences'

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A PILOT scheme banning the sale of alcohol to under-21s has led to a drop in crime and anti-social behaviour.

Eighteen off-licences in Larbert and Stenhousemuir have been restricting alcohol sales to people over 21 on Friday and Saturday nights.

Figures released by the Scottish Government yesterday showed calls to Central Scotland police about antisocial behaviour had fallen by 40 per cent since the voluntary Stop the Supply project began in April.

And between April and June, breaches of the peace were down by nearly 40 per cent, minor assaults fell by almost 30 per cent and serious assaults were down 60 per cent, compared to the same period last year.

Ministers said the statistics provided "more evidence" that an over-21s off-sales policy could help cut crime and anti-social behaviour if it were extended across the country.

The Scottish Government has already put forward proposals to increase the legal age limit for buying drink in off-licences from 18 to 21.

But the figures were condemned by the Tories as "propaganda" from the SNP to convince people that the "ludicrous" plans are the way forward.

Community safety spokesman John Lamont said: "The fact is that this plan was accompanied by a crackdown on existing legislation and a specific policing focus on this initiative." The Scottish Government's consultation on alcohol misuse closes today.