New call for alcohol glass ban

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New call for alcohol glass ban

27th September 2010

A criminal injuries expert has welcomed renewed calls for alcohol to be served in plastic cups in a bid to reduce glass-related injuries sustained in violent attacks.

Matthew Evans, Head of the Criminal Injuries Compensation department at Fentons Solicitors LLP, said: "Glassing causes horrific injuries and has a lasting and devastating impact on victims and their families. Any move to reduce the chances of glass being used as a weapon can only be welcomed."

A leading researcher speaking at the World Safety Conference in London has called for the use of plastic 'glasses' and bottles in bars and clubs to eliminate the use of glass as a weapon.

Crime surveys suggest the number of annual violent attacks involving glass may run into six figures. The Home Office estimates nearly 87,000 injuries are caused by glass attacks each year in England and Wales and £100m a year is spent by the NHS, the police and courts, on glass-related violence.

"As criminal injury specialists we see a number of clients who have sustained terrible injuries after a night out has ended in violence," said Matthew, a partner with the firm. "If alcohol was served more often in plastic glasses and bottles, the injury toll - as well as the severity of injuries from violent attacks - would inevitably fall."

Research has shown young people have no problem with the idea of plastic glasses and bottles. The over-40s however are less inclined, citing the preferred weight and feel of glass along with the false perception that glass kept their beer colder then plastic.

"We are all used to seeing milk sold in cartons and soft drinks in plastic," said Matthew, "but paradoxically alcohol - the one type of drink associated with accidents and serious violence - is still sold in glass containers."

Trials involving polycarbonate glasses took place in three Lancashire towns last year. While the number of violent incidents did not decrease, the number of injuries fell significantly, with eye surgeons in the area estimating the local NHS had saved more than £7m over that period.

Despite the introduction of toughened glass, researchers say further measures are needed such as a ban on the use of screw-top bottles. Along with the ease in which drinkers can take and consume the bottles in the street, the screw-top prevents the neck of the bottle from disintegrating when broken, enabling its use as a weapon in the hands of an assailant.

Researchers said a blanket ban on the use of glass to sell alcohol would inevitably affect retailers and restaurants. A more proportionate response could involve the selective targeting of licensed premises, city-centre streets as well as late-night bars and clubs.

"Shatter-resistant glass or plastic is already used in selected pubs," said Matthew. "If the practice became more widespread, with a greater number of pubs adopting the use of safer glasses, the number of facial lacerations caused by glassing attacks leading to life-long disfigurement and scarring could be significantly reduced."

How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons Solicitors has a specialist department which deals with claims for criminal injury compensation and applications to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

If you think that you have a case, or if you require further information, please contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.

Source - BBC