Monks' brew linked to crime wave

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.

0 thoughts on “Monks' brew linked to crime wave

  1. While I’m not much for consuming alcohol, I do recognize that one of the USA’s issues is that we try so hard to keep under-21 people from getting any. We make it sound attractive and grown up, so that most teens find some way to obtain it illegally. Then, suddenly, they turn 21 and they are expected to be fully mature and prepared to handle the booze we wouldn’t let them touch previously.

    Even low-level supervisors in a workplace know that you have to train people first. Then, you can expect them to behave appropriately. That means, I think, that laws have to allow parents to start giving small quantities of alcoholic beverages to their teens, so that they can teach them to “drink responsibly”.

    No, not every parent will be a good example or good teacher. And, no, not every teen will learn the lessons of responsibility. But it seems to me that we are doing a disservice by “protecting” them until they are legally independent and subject to the full judgment of the courts for any missteps.

    (Your anti-spam word wasn’t visible. Good thing the audio file works!)

  2. Indeed, W^L+. I’m not trying to offer any easy answers to the problem. In practice it seems even under-18s get hold of Buckfast without too much trouble, and no one has trained them to drink responsibility. But Scotland has a quite different culture of drinking from England, and probably also from the USA, so any answers we might offer based on our own experience might well not fit the context.

  3. As an aside, I live not far from Buckfast Abbey and regularly imbibe this concoction. I can commend it to you. It tastes delicious. It surely must be what Paul meant in I Tim 5.23. It certainly settles my stomach.

    The monks at Buckfast do a fine line in honey as well. I believe they have charismatic bees..

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