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BINGE DRINK BATTLE IS TOUGHER THAN TERROR; Top cop's warning as he says: Treble price.

Byline: By BRENDON WILLIAMS

FIGHTING binge-drinking is a bigger challenge for the police than the threat from terrorists, a senior officer has claimed.

Clive Wolfendale, deputy chief constable of North Wales Police, has called for alcohol prices to be doubled or trebled in a bid to stop "gangs of idiots" roaming town centres.

He said: "Binge-drinking is the single most significant challenge in terms of crime.

"We have got the threat from terrorism and extremists but in terms of day-to-day policing, this is the biggest challenge." About half of violent crimes in his region are alcohol-related.

Mr Wolfendale said controversial plans for longer opening hours were a "reasonable" way of trying to deal with the problem.

But it had to be coupled with a "huge hike" in prices.

He said: "Karl Marx once described religion as the opium of the masses.

"In Britain today, alcohol is the opium of the masses.

"The reason we suffer the problems we do is that in other countries, the problem is controlled by price.

"Here, alcohol has reduced in price dramatically. It is quite possible to consume as much as you want, it's so cheap."

Mr Wolfendale added: "The approach being taken to extend opening hours to control binge drinking is a reasonable one, but it will have to be combined with much higher prices.

"Doubling or tripling the price is extreme, and I can't imagine it would be easily done."

Earlier this week, police chiefs said towns would face Ibiza-style disorder if plans to extend hours went ahead.

Documents released by the Association of Chief Police Officers stated: "One only has to look to popular holiday destinations to see the effect of allowing British youth unrestricted access to alcohol."

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 13, 2005
Words:290
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