The use of off-trade glass as a weapon in violent assaults by Young Offenders

Published: 2010

Forsyth, A. J. M., Khan, F. & McKinlay, W. (2010), The use of off-trade glass as a weapon in violent assaults by Young Offenders, Crime Prevention and Community Safety, 2010, 12 (4).


This article aims to highlight the neglected issue of ‘glassing’ injury risk from off-trade alcohol bottles.  The study participants included a survey of male Young Offenders (n=172) recruited during their induction into Scotland’s only Young Offenders Institution in 2007 and an interview sample (n=30) recruited in the same way during 2008.  A self-complete questionnaire enquired about respondent’s drinking and offending.  Face-to-face interviews were conducted to qualitatively investigate issues raised by the 2007 survey.  The survey comprised more than a quarter of Scotland’s male Young Offenders.  Over 80 per cent had been drinking before their current offence. Approximately two-thirds reported using a weapon (80 per cent while under the influence of alcohol).  After knives, bottles were their most often ‘used’ weapon.  Unlike knives, bottles were seldom reported as being ‘carried’.  Interviewees more often gave accounts of using bottles than any other potential weapon, suggesting that bottles may not be considered as a weapon (in the same way as knives), but simply happen to be omnipresent when alcohol-related violence occurs. On-trade glass was never mentioned during this research.  There is a clear need to highlight the risks posed by off-trade alcohol glassware, and for this to be replaced with plastic containers where possible.