20th April 2009

The SCCJR was featured in the Scotsman newspaper on 20th April 2009:


FOUR out of ten young offenders drank the tonic wine Buckfast before they committed their crimes, a new report has revealed.
A massive 81.3 per cent of youths surveyed had drunk alcohol before offending, and 80 per cent agreed that drink had contributed to their offending.

That figure has nearly doubled from a total of 47.9 per cent back in 1996.

Research carried out in 2007 in the Polmont Young Offenders Institution, which looked at alcohol and violence in young male offenders, found 43.4 per cent of those had drunk Buckfast before carrying out their crime.

Another 42 per cent said they had been drinking spirits and 31 per cent had drunk beer. The study was carried out by the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR) and was based on surveys with 420 young offenders dating back more than 30 years.

Labour’s Scottish justice spokesman, Richard Baker, said: "To have one drink linked to so many incidents of crime is extremely worrying."

Buckfast is produced by Benedictine monks in a Devon monastery. But its distributors, J Chandler and Co, have previously rejected claims that they are responsible for anti-social behaviour among its drinkers.

Commenting on the report, company spokesman Jim Wilson said: "A lot of good people drink our product, not just young criminals. Just naming Buckfast is not fair."

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said minimum pricing for alcohol was a "targeted policy that would most affect harmful and hazardous drinkers". He added: "However, we recognise that certain drinks are chosen for reasons other than price – perhaps due to the image and perceived ‘street cred’ of them.

"We need to change the culture of looking up to the heavy- drinking hard man."