The research by Manchester Metropolitan University analyzed Police Scotland data to understand how minimum unit price (MUP), introduced in May 2018, affected various crimes. It found no statistically significant reduction in alcohol-related crime, disorder and public nuisance offenses.
Previously, research by Public Health Scotland indicated there was also little change in non-alcohol-related crimes such as drug-related offenses since MUP was implemented.
Overall, MUP has had a positive impact in Scotland. In 2020, Scottish alcohol alcohol sales saw a 26 year low since 1994 when records began. A Lancet study analyzing MUP in both Scotland and Wales found that Scottish MUP led to 7.7% decrease in household alcohol purchases.
The question is why these improvements in alcohol consumption do not translate into a more distinct reduction in alcohol-related crime. Jon Bannister, a criminology professor at Manchester Metropolitan University, provides some explanation.
On the whole, the limited discernible impact of MUP on alcohol-related crime, disorder and public nuisance suggests that the reduction in off-trade alcohol sales that followed implementation is below that required to deliver a reduction in crime,” said Prof. Jon Bannister, as per BBC.
Or, if crime did reduce, it has done so at a scale that the evaluation could not identify”.
Jon Bannister, criminology professor, Manchester Metropolitan University
One reason could be that the MUP of 50p is not enough to deliver a reduction in crime, since the policy was approved originally in 2012, and only came into force after a six year legal struggle with the alcohol industry. Based on the retail price index, 50p in 2012 is equivalent to 61p in 2021. This means that the alcohol floor price would need to be raised to account for inflation. Furthermore, at the time of implementation the Scottish government committed to reviewing the price after two years. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the review.
This is why Scottish communities have are calling for raising the alcohol floor price from the current 50p per unit to 65p per unit.
Setting [MUP] at [65p] will make good the effects of inflation and, more importantly it will increase the positive benefits of the policy by reducing consumption, saving and improving more lives and preventing a new generation from developing an unhealthy relationship with alcohol,” said Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, as per BBC.
Alison Douglas, chief executive, Alcohol Focus Scotland