In response to the WHO global report yesterday (Wednesday 24 April 2024) into alcohol consumption by children highlighting that the UK has the worst record out of 44 countries surveyed, Derek Lewis, Chair of Community Alcohol Partnerships (CAP), comments that underage drinking is an enduring problem which CAP is working tirelessly to address.

‘Community Alcohol Partnerships was established specifically to address this issue in the areas of high underage consumption and harm. More than 270 local CAP partnerships have been created and have done sterling work in reducing this problem, typically achieving reductions of around 40% in underage consumption and related harms in their communities. There is still more to do, and we are currently seeking additional funding to double the number of local partnerships.’


‘However, the principal source of alcohol for teenage drinkers is their own parents. This was highlighted by research we undertook in 2022, which showed among other things that most parents were unaware of the Chief Medical Officers’ guidance that ‘an alcohol-free childhood is best’. Successfully addressing this issue is critical to reducing underage consumption and harm.’


‘We have since commissioned an exhaustive review of research into the reasons why parents supply alcohol to their children, what motivates them and what interventions have been successful elsewhere in changing parental behaviour. The results of this review are expected in the next few weeks. It is our intention that this work should form the basis for development of a major national programme to inform and influence parents.’


Kate Winstanley, CAP Director, adds – ‘This is the first data we've had on adolescent drinking since before COVID and the results are very concerning. Before this, we had seen a downward trend in drinking for under 15s but this now shows a sharp increase since 2018 especially in England.’


‘We know that the single biggest driver of underage drinking is parents supplying and/or allowing access to alcohol and this issue needs urgent attention. We know that over 70% of drinkers aged 11-15 obtain alcohol via their parents, more than any other means. What we urgently need now is a national action to educate parents on the importance of an alcohol-free childhood.’


For media information, please contact: Kate Winstanley, CAP Director, on 07825155225.