POLICE leaders have urged the Government to put a stop to cheap drink which they say damages the region and piles pressure on emergency services.

The North-East’s three police and crime commissioners have together written to Home Secretary Amber Rudd calling for the introduction of minimum unit pricing (MUP) for alcohol in England, as has already been done in Scotland.

Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, reports there were an estimated 239,000 alcohol related crimes in the region in 2015/16 which cost the economy £331m.

Research by Sheffield University estimates that in its first five years, a MUP of 50p would prevent at least 11,000 crimes in the region and save £66m.

Durham Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner Ron Hogg said: “Our police officers are experiencing the brunt of this problem on a daily basis.

“A survey of North East frontline officers in 2013 revealed that over half believe that alcohol related crime takes up at least half their workload, while 86 per cent have been subjected to an alcohol related assault.

“It is time to take a new approach and start to tackle this issue.”

Cleveland's PCC Barry Coppinger said: “Whilst we recognise that MUP is not the magic fix all solution, we believe that by increasing the price of the cheapest alcohol products consumed by the heaviest drinkers we will be targeting those individuals who cause our forces the greatest problems.”

Support for MUP by leading international bodies such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Health Organisation and national organisations such as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, the Royal Medical Colleges and the National Police Chiefs’ Council is growing.

The PCCs say more than half of the public are also in favour of the measure and independent pub landlords back it by a ratio of two to one.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC said: “We are urging the Government not to delay the introduction of MUP.

“The poorest and most vulnerable in society suffer disproportionately from the harms caused by cheap alcohol. MUP would contribute significantly social justice, with around 80 per cent of the lives saved coming from routine and manual worker groups.”