Number of booze incidents causing concern

HAWICK has been identified as one of the major hot spots in the region for alcohol-related antisocial behaviour incidents.

And the town is also shown as having one of the highest number of attendances at accident and emergency as a result of alcohol.

The startling statistics were revealed this week in the Scottish Borders Alcohol Profile which was due to be presented to the licensing board today (Friday).

Of the 7,644 incidents of antisocial behaviour reported, 1,736 (23 per cent) were alcohol related. And there were 88 admissions to Borders General Hospital.

Galashiels recorded a similar percentage of incidents and a slightly higher admissions number.

The report revealed that many locals were found to be drunk when caught committing crime and two murders in Hawick in recent years had alcohol as a contributing factor.

Inspector John Scott said: “A lot of this information shows that many people drink alcohol to harmful levels and impact significantly on public services.

“The main towns in the Borders, including Hawick, have the highest levels of antisocial behaviour calls in the weekends.”

According to the report, there are 66 licensed premises in Hawick, by far the greatest in the Borders.

But Inspector Scott believes it is drinks promotions in supermarkets and off-licences that are causing the greatest concern.

He said: “Many people who enjoy the night-time economy in the Borders preload on cheap drink and this is often the most challenging behaviour for both the public services and staff working in licensed premises.”

The profile was compiled over 12 months – focusing on a particular five-month period between June and October – by Susan Walker, of the Alcohol and Drugs Partnership, and Erin Murray of Scottish Borders Council.

Ms Walker said: “To get the accident and emergency data was a first for Scotland.”