Thursday, 4 February 2010

Glasses, Glassings and Doubtful Statistics


The Design Council has announced that is has developed two new prototype beer glasses to combat the problem of glasses being used as weapons in pubs and clubs. Basically the technology in one case offers a resin layer in the glass that will prevent glasses from sharding when broken, while the other is layered like a car windscreen, making it hard to smash and less dangerous than the current type of beer glass. They won't look or feel different, so well and good.

Along with this though there are some statistics which made me gasp with surprise. It seems that there are 87,000 glassings a year. Not innocent injuries caused by contact with a broken glass, say in picking one up that you've knocked over, but actual violence using a beer glass. What? That is an average of 238 a day. Now I don't know about you, but I find that hard to believe. I have been going in pubs for well over thirty years and been in some bloody rough ones, but thankfully I have never seen any glass related violence ever. I don't doubt for a second that it happens - and when it does it tends to be front page news - but 238 a day? Really? Does anyone else find that an unbelievable figure?

This is compounded (according to Alan Johnson the Home Secretary - pictured) by an alleged cost to the NHS of 2.7 billion pounds. What? That would suggest that each incident costs the NHS £31,000. Really? Can this possibly be true?

Anything that makes glasses safer without resorting to plastic is fine with me, but do we really need simple measures that sort out a minority problem to be accompanied by such obvious distortion and hyperbole? Pete Brown has already shown that government use of its own statistics is, shall we say, selective, but now it seems the government is heading towards Goebbels motto of "the bigger the lie, the more the people will believe it."

And that just won't do.

Photos of the new glasses will be available later today.

29 comments:

Melissa Cole said...

I was going to write another post on this but I was having a really tough time getting my head around the figures because I really couldn't believe them either - need to check them again!

Tandleman said...

Me too and calculators aren't so good when there are so many zeros, but I reckon I'm right.

Melissa Cole said...

I just rang the Home Office to ask for a breakdown of the statistics because the number doesn't actually mean in an on trade environment, which means that it's only where glass has been a weapon - which strikes me as a very broad brush to be using.

As long as they don't dick around with the pint glass I'm not that fussed in terms of safety is good but using fudged figures as an excuse isn't!!!

And the press officer in the Home Office press office was un-fricking-believably rude to me!

Tandleman said...

Still distortion as it implies something else. And still dodgy.

Probably not a civil servant. Lots of press officers are contractors. Report him/her.

Cooking Lager said...

Lies, lies and government statistics. I believe a glass based weapon when used in prison is called a “shiv”. Not that I’ve been in chokey. I learnt that off the telly. I suspect the stats may not all be glassings in a pub.

As for the new glassware, I occasionally break pint pots at home and have to venture into pubs to steal new ones. If the new glassware is more resilient I guess I’ll be on the rob less but have less reason to go in pubs. 2 edge sword for publicans wishing to attract the glass stealing punter.

Tandleman said...

Well given what Melissa says,that'll possibly be so, but the Home Office Press release implies that it is the pub that is the problem.

I sort of doubt that home based glassings are that common either. As for attracting the glass thieving customer, well, I think they'll manage without you. With a heavy heart of course.

Tandleman said...

PS - From the press release:
" Alcohol-related Crime – finding design-led approaches to reduce the harm caused by alcohol-related antisocial and criminal behaviour, especially assaults in pubs and clubs;"

Paul Garrard said...

These figures do seem rather unbelievable. Someone’s done something wrong; extrapolating the data incorrectly, putting a decimal point in the wrong place or misunderstanding the given time scale I suspect.

“Anything that makes glasses safer without resorting to plastic is fine with me”- glass is safe, it’s the idiots that want to fight with them that aren’t!

Woolpack Dave said...

87,000 per year would result in about 1:1000 people being injured every year in this way. To put it into context our local council area, and coincidentally the area covered by the local comic that masquerades as a paper, is around 70,000 people. That would result in more than one glassing per week.

The local paper loves to cover such things and it is a big story when it happens. It does not happen every week, in pubs or anywhere else.

An interesting point by Cookie is that the glasses last longer. However, we have very, very few breakages in our pub and glasses eventually get thrown out because they are scratched and look unsightly. The ones that don't get stolen, that is.

I suspect these new "safer" glasses are more expensive. They must be as the process to make them will be more complex. They will still scratch as easily so my yearly costs for glasses will increase but at no improvement to safety.

I suspect most pubs are the same. Targeted it might be useful, but then targeted enforcement of existing laws at the establishments that let the side down would be far more reasonable. But then that would not give an excuse for new legislation.

I do wish the Government would stop trying to find solutions for non-existent problems just to justify their existence.

Sid Boggle said...

Isn't this £2.7 billion the same figure the NHS uses when it says how much alcohol misuse costs the service?

Is this another case of HMG using the numbers to say more than one thing, and expect credulous reporters to repeat it without checking? I would not be one bit surprised...

Alan said...

Quart bottles were outlawed for this reason in Nova Scotia decades ago. I had a client whose wife put a bottle in his face. I assume it happens all the time but I just don't come into contact with it. People also have a hard time understanding that there are something like a million DYI convictions in the USA every year. But it is pretty hard to refute a conviction statistic.

Wouldn't it be more actually assessing if the fact is correct rather than repeating that "it couldn't be, couldn't it?" Can't the collective power of beer blogging actually achieve that?

Velky Al said...

The only glassing I have ever seen was just on Argyle St in Glasgow, and that was with a milk bottle rather than a beer glass.

Tandleman said...

I would have thought it'd be easier to hit someone with a smaller bottle rather than a bigger one, but that's just me. I guess your client's wife was a strong lass. As for quart bottles being outlawed due to being a weapon of choice, well, I have to say that's bizarre.

I don't know what DYI is, but in any event we are not talking convictions here, we are talking alleged numbers of people being treated for a particular type of assault. It is set against a background of dodgy and selective use of NHS statistics.See Pete Brown's blog for details.

Cooking Lager said...

On Velky's point about bottling's, are we to see a change in bottles sold in pubs? A move to plastic bottles? Is this technology feasible on a cost basis when applied to the recyclable beer bottle?

Whorst said...

Remember the track, "I will Imbibe?"
There's a mention in there of "all the glassing you've done." Probably a top three track.

Tandleman said...

Wondered when you'd pop up with that one Sausage. Bang on cue. Good man you are.

Stuart Bull said...

Apparently, clubs do use plastic bottles already because a wholesaler I know cannot supply Stella to clubs in glass bottles. They told me that Waveley TBS re-bottles into plastic and has the whole market.

But this is about glasses and just sounds like another mandatory code to be forced upon pubs using dubious statistics to me.

TIW said...

Yet another attempt at keeping the population frightened so they're easier to control.

I've also done my share of drinking in 'earthy' pubs and I've seen one glassing - done with a Newcastle Brown bottle, years ago. This was in Carlisle which has its moments but it's not exactly the South Bronx. The local news media were in meltdown about it for weeks.

If these 'safety' glasses come in, better be prepared to cough up a German-style deposit.

Alan said...

"...As for quart bottles being outlawed due to being a weapon of choice, well, I have to say that's bizarre..."

I believe the indigenous etiquette one followed circa 1971 was this:
- drink seven quarts at hockey rink dance
- notice neighbouring man eyeing girl you were eyeing.
- critical: finish quart you are currently consuming in great flourish accompanied by "Hey BUDDY!" or "WHADDAYOOOLUKINAT???"
- as hand and bottle are on way down from gaping mouthy maw, tap quart on table or wall just so, cracking exactly as to lower 2/3s of now emptied bottle fall away.
- with remaining jagged neck in hand, wave and, if utter fool, utilize.

Tandleman said...

Hmm. Still bizarre.

Ken said...

47 years old. Drinking all my adult life. One glassing witnessed - 13 years ago.

Jeff Frane said...

In the States, beer bottles at sporting events all seem to be plastic, but that's due to simple breakage rather than bashing others.

Apparently, the British are far more dangerous and warlike than we've been led to believe.

The Southport Drinker said...

Great post! Shows what lying buggers they are

Tandleman said...

Jeff - You didn't know we were warlike and dangerous??

Jeff Frane said...

Well, the Scots, yeah.

Matt said...

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100204/ap_on_re_eu/eu_britain_pint_glass

RedNev said...

More lies, rather like WMDs in 45 minutes. I have been drinking legally for nearly 38 years and if this number was right, the total number of glassing victims during my drinking career would amount to 1 in 18 of the entire population. I don't know anyone who's been glassed, even though with these figures I should know quite a few.

As for the £2700 million figure, that is the estimate of how much ALL drinking-related problems cause the NHS, not just glassing. But then drinkers pay around £8000 million in alcohol tax/duty.

Krakow Bob said...

These glasses aren't going to be mandatory so don't get your knickers in a twist. They may actually be a positive development, as they'll likely only be imposed as licensing conditions on pubs that are currently required to use plastics only anyway.

Jeff Renner said...

I suspect that Alan's "DYI" was a typo for DUI, or driving under the influence, also known as DWI, driving while intoxicated (or formerly, impaired). Here in the US, that used to be BAC of 0.08% in most states, with a lesser charge of driving while impaired at 0.10%, but some years ago (maybe 10-15?), the federal government strong-armed (loaded word) the states into adopting the lower 0.08% for the basic serious charge by tying federal highway funds appropriation to individual states to their passing the tighter limit.