I just found an astonishing report at the BBC website. For over a century the Benedictine monks of Buckfast Abbey in Devon have been making their Buckfast tonic wine. One might expect this “Tonic with a smooth, rounded taste” to be a favoured tipple of retired clerics. But, according to the BBC, this drink has been linked to no fewer than 5,638 reported crimes, over a four year period, in the Strathclyde region of Scotland.
One in 10 of those offences were violent and the bottle was used as a weapon 114 times in that period.
This drink “made up just 0.5% of Scotland’s alcohol market”, but of one group of young offenders who had been drinking before they offended, as many as 40% reported that they had been drinking Buckfast.
Why should this be? Buckfast does contain high levels of caffeine as well as alcohol, but then so does rum and Coca-Cola, or fine wine followed by coffee. So it doesn’t make sense to claim that this mixture is causing crime. More likely it has simply become the fashionable drink among the particular section of Scottish society which are anyway most likely to offend while under the influence of alcohol.
So the monks can hardly be blamed for the problem. Banning the drink would hardly help as young offenders, who are under 18, are already not allowed to purchase any alcohol. But perhaps greater efforts should be made to keep this concoction, and any other alcoholic drinks, out of the hands of people too young and irresponsible to handle them.