BUCKFAST has been linked to almost 7000 crimes in Scotland over the past three years, new figures reveal.
The tonic wine is being mentioned six times a day in crime reports compiled by police officers across the country. The offences involving the drink, made by Benedictine monks in Devon, include attempted murder, assaults with weapons and sexual attacks.
Police have expressed concerns over links between Buckfast and violence. They have been denied by the firm, which says it is not to blame for individuals' actions.
Loading article content
The latest figures, compiled before the formation of Scotland's single police force, show in the Strathclyde area Buckfast was mentioned in 6496 reports over the past three years.
That is a rise of almost 1000 from the previous three years, and the force said the figure could be even higher as multiple offences can be included in one crime report.
In Fife, there were 175 crime reports mentioning Buckfast over the three-years, including 30 involving a weapon.
Tayside dealt with 150 crimes, Central Scotland 92 and Lothian and Borders 40. There were 22 incidents in Grampian, 21 in Dumfries and Galloway, while Northern Constabulary did not provide an answer.
Other crimes linked to the drink include shoplifting, housebreaking and culpable and reckless conduct.
Labour MSP Elaine Smith, who represents Coatbridge, called on the Government to look again at banning high-caffeinated drinks such as Buckfast.
She said: "It has been proven the mixture of caffeine and alcohol is an explosive one which causes increased aggression and anxiety. When the Alcohol Bill went through Parliament Labour attempted to legally limit the amount of caffeine in alcohol to 150mg per litre. This was unfortunately voted down by the SNP."
Alison McInnes MSP, Scottish LibDem justice spokeswoman, said: "A bottle of tonic wine might be cheap, but these figures show Scotland pays a high price for the problems excessive drinking can cause in our communities.
"We have already seen moves towards minimum pricing that will help reduce problem drinking, but ministers must continue to work with retailers and police to ensure alcohol is sold responsibly."
Buckfast distributor J Chandler again rejected a link between the product and crime and said it was unfairly singled out. Spokesman Stewart Wilson said: "Simply because Buckfast is mentioned in a crime report does not mean the drink was responsible for the crime. It is an individual's choice to go out a commit a crime and it is nothing to do with Buckfast.
"We feel we are singled out whereas various other brands are not. I would imagine the number of crime reports where Buckfast is mentioned is minimal when you compare it to the total number of crimes committed."