Melbourne, May 27 : Australia is seeing a sharp rise in what one may call a "drink to get drunk" culture among the youth, which in turn is costing the nation a hell lot of money to keep alcohol-related crime as well as other related problems in control, says a top police official.
In a move to reverse the country's slide into a binge-drinking culture, NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione, has called for wide-ranging reforms in the areas of policing, licensing and treatment.
He said that while alcohol-related crime was estimated to cost 1.7 billion dollars a year, the full financial burden, in view of health care and other areas, can go up to as much as 15 billion dollars annually for the country.
Scipione said that one third of all calls to police in NSW were alcohol-related and binge-drinking was a normal phenomenon.
"Drinking habits have changedWhat many young Australians are doing now is going out determined to get drunk, whatever the consequences," News.com.au quoted him, as saying.
He has suggested many reforms, which include a proposal to construct sobering-up facilities for heavily intoxicated people, who are otherwise sent to police custody.
"These are centres which have worked particularly well in our indigenous communities across Australia," he told the Seven Network.
The commissioner even pointed out to an increase in "vertical drinking" establishments, where consumers are prompted drink at a faster rate, due to the availability of fewer places to sit or to put down your drink between mouthfuls.
"The more you consume, the quicker you consume it, the drunker you get, so this is an emerging problem," said Scipione.
He said that big venues that can accommodate as many as 3000 people, often concentrated in the same area, along with extended trading hours, with alcohol flowing all the time, also creates massive problems for the police to deal with.
"Large numbers, particularly with this drink-to-get-drunk culture we are encountering more and more these days, relates, from our perspective, to significant problems," said Scipione.
He stressed that the government should consider reforms to alcohol taxation, including examining if tax-alignment to alcoholic content and providing tax incentives for the sale of low-strength drinks will see a reduction in harm.
Scipione also called for licensees to be more accountable for serving alcohol to underage drinkers and it is also required on the part of individuals to be more responsible.