Demon Drink?
Alcohol and offending
December 2013
"[Alcohol] just changes
me, makes me
different, like, [more] physical
and I get angry quickly and
stuff."
(Male, 14)
Project Goals
Understand levels of alcohol use and
related risks amongst young offenders
in London
Raise awareness of risk...
Context
Numbers in treatment for cannabis and
alcohol
16,000
14,000
12,000
10,000
8,000
6,000
4,000
2,000
-

Cannabis

Alc...
Context
Referral source to young people’s substance
misuse services
40
35
30
25
% 20
15
10
5
0

Source: Public Health Engl...
FINDINGS
Quantitative Sample
• 412 in
sample
from YOT
databases
• Average
age = 16
• 90% male

45
40
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
Qualitative Sample
• 19 semi-structured interviews
across 3 boroughs
• 16 male and 3 female
• Ages ranged from 14-18, with...
Alcohol would be illegal if it
was made now. It kills
thousands. Weed should be
legal, alcohol kills many
people.
(Male, 1...
Substance Use
(Quantitative Data)
• 11% viewed substance use as
positive/essential
• substance use was involved in
offendi...
Substance Use
(Qualitative Data)
• 18 out of 19 had smoked
cannabis, and 17 out of 19 had
drunk alcohol.
• Only 5 intervie...
Alcohol Use

25%

44%
31%

Not known to
have used
Ever used (not
recent)
Recent use
“I got kicked out in the
middle of year 8, I wasn’t
really in main school [after
that]...and that’s when I
started going d...
Alcohol linked to mental health
& disaffection with education
• Of 113 clients who had had
contact with/been referred to
m...
‘...if it gets aggro I can get
angry. It’s crazy, I’ve done
lots of things when I was
drunk and got away with
it, not got ...
Alcohol & Violence
• No clear link between alcohol
use and violent offending
• Have/use(d) alcohol + substance
use linked ...
"I think its 90%, that they're
[young people] gonna get in
trouble with the police [if
they've been drinking]. Coz
they're...
PROJECT
RECOMMENDATIONS
Training
• Train case workers in
Identification and Brief Advice
(IBA)

Youth justice case workers need
to be confident in...
Make NICE
• Existing guidance from the
National Institute for Health
and Care Excellence (NICE)
around alcohol and substan...
Don’t Look At ‘Alcohol’
On Its Own
• Schools (universal services )
AND youth offending services
(targeted) need to know:

...
London Is Different
• So these findings can’t be
considered representative
nationally.

Further research is needed in
othe...
Thanks
•

Mentor and Alcohol
Concern would like to
thank
– Middlesex University for
academic governance
of this project. I...
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  • These rates of alcohol use were surprising, suggesting significantly lower levels of alcohol experience than other national study of offender cohorts. Hammersley suggests that nine in 10 young offenders have ever drunk alcohol and it is estimated half of young offenders got drunk at least once a week. However, there is little or no recent comparable data available for young offenders living in London, with its consistently low-drinking culture.Surveys of school-age pupils aged 11-15 years in London suggest that 31% have ever drunk alcohol and only 7% have drunk in the last week - far below national rates of 74% and 25% respectively . A directly comparable with the offender data set aged 11-17 years old - drinking experience increases with age - but, in line with wider study, the findings appear to show higher alcohol risks for young offenders in London than non-offending peers . However, we need to be cautious with these conclusions due to the lack of reliable comparable data.
  • It is not possible to draw conclusions about the causality of alcohol in poor mental health or negative educational experiences based on these findings. Alcohol was not identified as a factor in disaffection and seems unlikely to have played a significant part in contributing to disengagement with schooling. However, experience of exclusions, truancy and attending a PRU may influence the likelihood of poor outcomes, including alcohol misuse. Alcohol may not represent the most significant vulnerability in the lives of many young people aged 11-17 years but it does appear as a thread between other risks factors and vulnerabilities. It is highly likely that what the data reflects is that for many young people in the youth justice system, alcohol represents one of a cluster of risks that contribute to poor life outcomes. Both mental health services and schools, PRUs in particular, need to be aware of the increased risk of alcohol use by the young people they work with. Practitioners should be aware that alcohol may be overlooked when multiple risks are present in a young person’s life. Dependence, fortunately, is rare amongst under-18s but early drunkenness and risky drinking patterns shape later relationships with alcohol and increase the problem behaviours. Early identification by universal services such as schools and in targeted support services such as PRUs, mental health services and YOSs is vital.
  • Fighting is strongly associated with alcohol use. Hazardous drinking is a risk factor both for being victimised and perpetrating youth violence and early drunkenness is linked to experience of fights, injuries and other problem behaviours. In England and Wales 18-24 year old males that report feeling very drunk at least monthly are more than twice as likely to have been involved in a fight in the previous year. The British Medical Association (BMA) estimates that in the UK, 78% of assaults are committed under the influence of alcohol. Whilst the evidence supporting the link between alcohol use and fights in young people and young adults appears strong, the evidence linking alcohol and violent recorded offences in under-18s appears less so. The YJB do not have statistics on the prevalence of alcohol on point of arrest. Limited existing research has tended to study higher risk imprisoned young people with research typically taking place in Youth Offending Institutes (YOIs), rather than amongst wider youth offender populations, many of who are completing community sentences. Certainly, young people interviewed for the study strongly associate excessive alcohol with losing control and being in fights, both in general assumptions and personal experiences. All interviewees that had drunk felt that alcohol had historically had a negative effect on their behaviour characteristically making them short-tempered and impulsive. A smaller proportion associated alcohol use with getting into ‘trouble’ - an association apparently not supported by the data. Six of the 19 young people interviewed stated that alcohol has played a part in them getting into ‘trouble’, although the police were not necessarily specified. It needs to be considered, given the strength of the link between alcohol and fights amongst boys and young men in particular, that alcohol-related violence may be under-recorded by criminal justice agencies. Alcohol-related violence committed by under-18s is likely to take place in the same environments in which they drink, often out of sight of the public or authorities. Violence is likely to take the form of a fight
  • Demon drink

    1. 1. Demon Drink? Alcohol and offending December 2013
    2. 2. "[Alcohol] just changes me, makes me different, like, [more] physical and I get angry quickly and stuff." (Male, 14)
    3. 3. Project Goals Understand levels of alcohol use and related risks amongst young offenders in London Raise awareness of risky underage drinking by high risk groups, and contribute to alcohol practices in the youth justice system Give young offenders a voice on alcohol issues
    4. 4. Context Numbers in treatment for cannabis and alcohol 16,000 14,000 12,000 10,000 8,000 6,000 4,000 2,000 - Cannabis Alcohol Source: Public Health England
    5. 5. Context Referral source to young people’s substance misuse services 40 35 30 25 % 20 15 10 5 0 Source: Public Health England
    6. 6. FINDINGS
    7. 7. Quantitative Sample • 412 in sample from YOT databases • Average age = 16 • 90% male 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0
    8. 8. Qualitative Sample • 19 semi-structured interviews across 3 boroughs • 16 male and 3 female • Ages ranged from 14-18, with an average age of 16
    9. 9. Alcohol would be illegal if it was made now. It kills thousands. Weed should be legal, alcohol kills many people. (Male, 16)
    10. 10. Substance Use (Quantitative Data) • 11% viewed substance use as positive/essential • substance use was involved in offending behaviour for 20% • For 11% there was evidence that family members or carers used alcohol heavily
    11. 11. Substance Use (Qualitative Data) • 18 out of 19 had smoked cannabis, and 17 out of 19 had drunk alcohol. • Only 5 interviewees said they still drank alcohol, and only one said they drank regularly. • The average onset age of drinking was 14 years.
    12. 12. Alcohol Use 25% 44% 31% Not known to have used Ever used (not recent) Recent use
    13. 13. “I got kicked out in the middle of year 8, I wasn’t really in main school [after that]...and that’s when I started going down the wrong path...” (Male, 16)
    14. 14. Alcohol linked to mental health & disaffection with education • Of 113 clients who had had contact with/been referred to mental health services, 71% had used alcohol in the past • Of the 43 participants known to have been excluded from school, 65% had used alcohol and 28% of those excluded were recent users
    15. 15. ‘...if it gets aggro I can get angry. It’s crazy, I’ve done lots of things when I was drunk and got away with it, not got caught by the police." (Male, 16)
    16. 16. Alcohol & Violence • No clear link between alcohol use and violent offending • Have/use(d) alcohol + substance use linked to offending  33% committed violence against the person (as opposed to 19% of those who did not see a link) • However, looking at all violent offences, link disappears  tied specially to offences centred around 'fighting'
    17. 17. "I think its 90%, that they're [young people] gonna get in trouble with the police [if they've been drinking]. Coz they're drunk, they're not gonna know what they're doing, the drink is controlling them, so they're gonna end up getting into trouble, getting hurt." (Male, 15)
    18. 18. PROJECT RECOMMENDATIONS
    19. 19. Training • Train case workers in Identification and Brief Advice (IBA) Youth justice case workers need to be confident in addressing risky alcohol use
    20. 20. Make NICE • Existing guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) around alcohol and substance misuse should be followed
    21. 21. Don’t Look At ‘Alcohol’ On Its Own • Schools (universal services ) AND youth offending services (targeted) need to know: Alcohol use is more likely amongst ‘at risk’ young people
    22. 22. London Is Different • So these findings can’t be considered representative nationally. Further research is needed in other areas to better understand alcohol use amongst offender cohorts.
    23. 23. Thanks • Mentor and Alcohol Concern would like to thank – Middlesex University for academic governance of this project. In particular thanks goes to Dr Lucy Neville and to Juliana Tromposky for her contribution, – The London boroughs who worked with us to give us access to their data, – The young people who agreed to be interviewed for the project, and – Trust for London for funding the project. Download the full report from http://bit.ly/1fj6fp2

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