09/12/2013 Newsnight Scotland


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Tonight on Newsnight Scotland, we have the accident report into the


helicopter that crashed in to the Clutha Bar. But does it raise more


questions than it answers? And alcohol kills 20 people a week


in Scotland. With the minimum pricing laws still mired in legal


action, what can be done to moderate our enthusiasm for drink?


Good evening. The supermarket shelves are stacked with bottles and


pubs and clubs are busy as the Christmas party season gets under


way. For many in Scotland, though, a sociable drink at Christmas, or any


time of year, is not enough. NHS Health Scotland told us today that


booze still kills 20 people a week on average and called for more


action to cut alcohol-related deaths and the illness it causes,


particularly in women. The Scottish government agree, but their plans


for minimum unit pricing are still mired in legal argument. Here's


Andrew Kerr. Alcohol, booze, or even bevvy,


whatever your name, we certainly enjoy it in Scotland. There's


nothing wrong with a drink of the Scottish government tell us, we're


not anti-alcohol just anti alcohol misuse. Karen's nine litres of side


a day caused major health problems. I went to buy one bottle of cider, I


would get three bottles, which is three litres. So it is nine litres


of cider three times -- a day. As soon as they ran out, somebody else


would come through the door, it would be another two or possibly


three, then I'd go to sleep, wake up, and if there was none left, I'd


go to the shop and get another three. Karen's liver was badly


damaged. That is one of the myriad of health problems booze can bring.


There is a clear alcohol strategy in place to tackle that. To change our


destructive relationship with drink. NHS health Scotland have reported on


progress today and they welcome the fall in alcohol-related deaths but


warned that the equivalent of 20 people a week dying of drink is too


many. The health of younger women is of particular concern. Women aged 25


to 44, we have seen alcohol-related discharges go up a lot. That is on


ongoing cause of concern. With alcohol sales almost 20% higher here


than in England and Wales, there is clear evidence of a different


drinking cult church, a more harmful one. We drink more and we have a


hype percentage of people drinking the most harmful drink 's, which is


the cheap gyms and so we need to change drinking habits. We need to


drink less. Also, will need to stop drinking the harmful drinks and


drink in moderation. We need to drink in moderation. As medics and


government tried to nudge us towards a more responsible drinking, one


solution is swirling around. We think affordability is an important


element of the explanation of why harm's has been high and why it has


been falling in recent years. The recession has reduced affordability


and part of it is price. We think action is required to keep tackling


affordability of alcohol. Action is required, cue the Scottish


government ministers nodding in agreement. 60% of booze sold out of


pubs was below 50p per unit. Remember that? The initial level


proposed by the government for minimum unit pricing. That policy is


languishing in the courts. They call for other measures to be looked at


but the Health Secretary says that policy would tackle affordability.


Minimum unit pricing is so important because of it has the kind of impact


we anticipate, many more people will substantially reduce alcohol abuse.


A major plank in the strategy to change our behaviour and educate the


young, not much to think about if you are having a glass, but


something to mull over over Christmas. I'm joined now by Jim


McCartney, head of the Public health Observatory.


And by Doctor Deborah Shipton. First of all, Jim, what reasons have you


identified for the fall in deaths? The most ticks -- the most important


explanation is that incomes have been falling or staying still as


prices have been rising over the last ten years. As a result, alcohol


is less affordable which has restricted the amount of alcohol


people are able to buy, therefore people have been resulting in less


alcohol-related deaths. There are a couple of other explanations, too.


We spent a lot of money improving services, introducing things like


interventions, which has had some impact. And the ban on multi-byte


discounting, which has lowered alcohol sales by 3%. With the


economic downturn going back five years, we saw a spike in the number


of deaths further back than that, perhaps when people were better off.


Yes, they've been declining since 2003, but most alcohol-related


deaths are in the poorest 10th of the nation and if you look at their


income, their incomes haven't been rising for a long time before the


current recession took place. As a result, the incomes of the poorest


group, the ones buying most frequently, they have been


stagnating whilst alcohol prices have risen, thus alcohol is less


affordable. Yet we see the number of women admitted to hospital with


alcohol-related problems on the rise. What is the underlying


problem? There is many reasons why women might be drinking more. It is


far more acceptable now for women to drink and for them to drink to the


excessive levels we see in men, which is related to the trends we


see in women nowadays. We heard from Karen, drinking 33 litre bottles at


a time, at least she was. Are the drinks that women consume cheaper?


It is difficult to know what people are drinking because the data is


unreliable. That said, there is general data suggesting that women


are drinking higher strength so they are more likely to be drinking the


spirit and the higher strength designer drinks, I guess, than men.


That is contributing to it. We have had this fall in the death rate even


though the minimum unit pricing that has been trumpeted by the government


has not been enacted. How big a difference will we see if that is


actually enforced? We have got data from North America, in particular


Canada which introduced the minimum unit pricing. That resulted in


dramatic falls in alcohol-related deaths. If we restrict price, the


prices of the cheapest alcohol, it can have a difference. One of the


main reasons why alcohol-related deaths might be coming down in


Scotland is because incomes have stagnated. If you call me is to turn


round and incomes increase, it's possible alcohol-related deaths


could go back up again. How real is that fear? The data suggest that the


downturn, the large proportion of it, will be related to alcohol


becoming less affordable. As it becomes more affordable, as


household incomes in proof, it is quite likely that alcohol


consumption will go up and harm will go up. If harm is linked to price,


does that tell is that many of the health messages we have had over


recent years haven't permeated through to the public? A lot of


interventions are educating the publisher and around health risks,


around the units and recommended levels. They don't really work very


much in terms of the adult population or in terms of schools


and children. And we also know that when people are drinking alcohol,


the decisions they make on the night of how many drinks to have, how to


continue are not related to units and not related to how units are


related to the recommended levels. It's much more to do with who they


are with, the intention they have of the evening. Is littered


contradiction with these figures in that at Westminster the government


is not in favour of this minimum unit pricing. -- isn't it a


contradiction. But the death rates in England are much lower in England


than Scotland where we have these measures already? Alcohol-related


problems, just like suicide and of islands, all of these factors are


determined by other factors in society, whether it is


unemployment, poor housing, the deindustrialisation of our cities


and regions. All of these factors taken together have to be taken into


the context where drugs and alcohol and violence have become normal. It


is quite right the Scottish government looks at the health


problems of the country and takes appropriate legislation. It's worth


remembering that alcohol-related deaths are 70% higher than in


England, so it has to be a priority here. It used to be the case in


Scotland that we used to have lower alcohol-related deaths than the rest


of Europe so this is something new. The statistics give varying picture


we have the ban on these multi-buy promotions. We have had some


statistics that say that it hasn't reduced consumption that to much.


The data is clear. We use sales data, the best proxy to see how much


alcohol has been taken by the population. Some other reports are


based on how much people have told researchers, and that data is less


robust. We are fairly confident there has been a 2.6% reduction in


sales since that ban came in, particularly in wine, where we think


on -- where we think wine has been sold as a multi-buying discount. We


think that has had had a good impact. Small numbers nonetheless.


If the minimum unit pricing is implemented, if the legal battle is


sorted out, I presume it's still going to take a long time before the


ship is turned around? Well, we will see fairly immediate effect in terms


of the reduction of consumption and reductions in harm also come quite


soon after reductions in consumption, so we will see some


immediate effects. And I think we will need to say that we would like


to keep attention on price, presumably indefinitely in terms


that it is quite appropriate to have attention on control of availability


of alcohol. As soon as you take it away, as we've seen in other


countries when that is relaxed, consumption goes up. That is


something that will have to be continued. As I say, minimum unit


pricing is in the courts at the moment, would you like to see other


measures from politicians at the moment? It could take months or


years to sort out. We are looking at evidence from other countries to see


what else might be affected, harms to drinkers themselves, harms to


society itself, or the treatment of children. There is evidence that


liquidation -- regulation of the best forms of approach to tackling


alcohol misuse. And we've seen examples in North America where


regulating the sale of alcohol can reduce alcohol intake even without


it affecting the price. Thank you very much.


It's not much more than a week since the Police Scotland helicopter


crashed into the Clutha Bar in Glasgow. The wreckage was taken to


the Air Accidents Investigation Branch in Farnborough for analysis,


and today they issued their first report into the crash. They have


found no evidence of engine or gearbox failure in the helicopter.


Catriona Renton has the details of the report.


It is ten days now since witnesses said they saw the police helicopter


drop like a stone from the sky. The crew had started work at 8:45pm,


flying from Glasgow. At 10:18pm, the pilot requested clearance from air


traffic controllers to return to the heliport. This was the last


communication with him. Four minutes later, radar contact with the


helicopter was lost. Today's report said the helicopter struck the flat


roof of the pub with a high rate of descent and low or negligible


forward speed. A preliminary examination showed all the main


rotor blades were attached at the time of impact but that neither the


main nor the tail rotor were rotating. After the initial


examination, the helicopter was lifted clear of the building by a


crane. 95 litres of fuel were removed from its tanks. In


Farmborough, they found no evidence of major mechanical disruption of


either engine and that the main rotor gearbox was capable of


providing drive. So far, extensive damage has prevented similar checks


on the other gearbox. Experts say what has been rolled out leaves more


questions than answers. Given what we know from this report, what


theory do you think the investigators will be working on? I


think it's too early to even guess what theory they may be working


towards. This is an interim report. We can't really draw any conclusion


from the report at this moment. Does this report rule anything out? I


don't think it does. One of the tiny footnotes within this document says


that it is a tentative report pointing to where they are at the


moment, what they have been looking at, but they say they found no


problems with the engines all the gearbox, but it's very much early


days because there is still some investigation to go. There's an


investigation to go into an awful lot of other things as well. For


example, the electronics on board particular helicopter, fitted with


the full authority digital electronic control system for the


engines. That leaves no ability for the pilots to take manual control if


something went wrong, for example. If the system failed, it follows


that the rotors would stop turning on the aircraft would come down.


They could be looking at many other avenues as well. On the subject of


the data that the helicopter itself may provide, I presume there is the


danger that some of that data may be lost. That's right. Many of the


systems on board modern aircraft of any type have data capture devices


built-in, which gives some indication as to Fort conditions and


so forth. Now, the investigations will look at those and tried to


retrieve whatever they can retrieve and download whatever data happens


to be there, provided that those parts are not so badly damaged that


the chips themselves are damaged. So there is about. There is also the


possibility that many of the police systems on board this helicopter,


such as CCTV cameras, voice recordings of conversations between


the helicopter and police control of the helicopter and air traffic


control, might provide some answers as well. It's interesting they


talked of no evidence of major mechanical disruption. Is it


possible a very small Fort could cause such a failure? It is


possible. At the end of the day, we are talking about a very complex


aircraft and one that is reliant on all sorts of systems, not just the


engines and the rotor blades. Any particular part of that airframe


might well be ultimately found is the cause of this accident. But it's


only ten days since the helicopter came down and the investigators are


looking at everything, every not in bold. People will want answers


relatively quickly. What time frame could you put on this? I don't think


we can. There's an awful lot of extra work to do. It may be


something crops up tomorrow or the day after, which would give us a


relatively clear indication as to what happened. But equally, that


elusive bit of the puzzle may only be discovered six or 12 months from


now. In the meantime, do questions still need to be asked about the


fleet? Yes. There are an awful lot of these particular helicopters.


Many police forces will want to know that their helicopters, the ones


they are depending on for mission-critical operations every


day, are safe to fly, so there is pressure on the investigators to


come up with answers as quickly as possible.


Now a quick look at tomorrow's front pages.


That's all from me. I'll be back with Good Morning Scotland on Radio


Scotland tomorrow at 6am. Gordon will be here tomorrow. Good night.


We have entered a relatively settled spell of weather. But not completely


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