Official reports put cost of crime, drugs and alcohol in three regions at £1.5bn a year

Crime, drugs and alcohol abuse cost taxpayers in just three regions £1.5billion a year, according to official reports.
Councils in Birmingham, Luton and Leicestershire have calculated the price of social breakdown in terms of police and court time, health services, welfare benefits and support for families.   In one area, the cost of binge-drinking on hospitals and the criminal justice system was put at £713million a year, while addicts used up another £500m in public sector resources.
The figures have been uncovered by the Conservatives in pilot projects commissioned by the Government but not published centrally.
Caroline Spelman, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said: “It is no surprise that Labour ministers have tried to bury this bad news.   “Across the country, local taxpayers are footing the bill for Labour’s broken society. The costs of social breakdown, alcohol abuse, poor schooling and drug addiction are just not confined to deprived areas – we all pay for it in our council tax bills and pay packets.
“There is no excuse for the secrecy of Labour ministers – they must come clean and publish all these reports in full.”
The 13 pilot studies were commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government a year ago in a £5m project known as Total Place. The idea was that public sector organisations in any given area could save money and improve services by improving co-operation and reducing duplication.
Earlier this month Liam Byrne, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, told MPs that it was up to local authorities whether they wanted to publish their reports or not, and he declined to put copies of each study in the Commons library.   But the Tories have found the results of three Total Place studies, covering Birmingham; Luton and Central Bedfordshire; and Leicestershire.
The Birmingham report found that gang-related murders and attempted murders are costing the city’s taxpayers at least £1.5m a year in police, court and prison costs.  It puts the cost of the activities of “10 major dynastic gang families” at £187.5m over the past 40 years. Birmingham’s two main gangs, the Johnson Crew and the Burger Bar Boys, are each said to include three generations of five families. Their rivalry led to the fatal shooting of two teenage girls, Letisha Shakespeare and Charlene Ellis, at a New Year party in 2003.
In Luton and Central Bedfordshire, a hard core of 250 criminals is blamed for a quarter of all offences, costing taxpayers up to £112m a year.
The Birmingham report puts the cost of alcohol misuse – including public disorder, workplace sickness and health services – at £713m a year. Drug misuse is said to cost £500m in terms of treatment, mental health care, benefits payments and police time.
Leicestershire estimated that drinking costs the NHS, police, workplaces and social services £120m a year.
Source:  24th March 2010

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