Research uncovers drinking problem

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Barstaff stll recommended double measures even when they realised a customer was intoxicated ©Creative Commons

Bar staff stll recommended double measures even when they realised a customer was intoxicated © Creative Commons

Researchers from Liverpool John Moores University have found that in 84% of cases, alcohol was served illegally to actors who pretended to be drunk in pubs and clubs across the city.

The four actors were trained to act in a drunken manner, using techniques like slurred speech, unsteadiness on their feet, lack of eye contact and focus and fumbling around.

The actors, who entered and tested 73 bars across Liverpool, found that in the vast majority of cases bartenders still served them, even though they were visibly inebriated.

LJMU’s Professor Karen Hughes, one of the leading researchers for the study and Manager of Behavioural Epidemiology, told JMU Journalism: “The actors portrayed an extreme level of drunkenness when attempting to purchase alcohol, and while we expected that some bar servers would sell alcohol to them we were surprised at just how easy it was for them to get served.

“Over 80% of attempted alcohol purchases were successful despite bar staff clearly often recognising that the actors were ‘drunk’.”

The actors attempted to buy the alcohol in the selected establishments from Wednesday to Sunday between the hours of 21:00 and 03:00.

The UK law preventing the sale of alcohol to drunks is constantly being broken, and health professionals say this is placing, “enormous burdens” on health services.

Professor Hughes added: “Although authorities in many areas have made large strides in increasing safety in nightlife, much less has been done to tackle the excessive drunkenness that leads to problems in the first place.

“Legislation preventing the sale of alcohol to drunken people has been in place for hundreds of years yet is hardly ever used, with the number of prosecutions across the country each year rarely reaching double figures.”

The UK Licensing Act 2003 states that it is illegal to knowingly serve alcohol to a drunk person, or to obtain alcohol for a drunk person on a licensed premises.

About Andrew McKenna, JMU Journalism