THE number of young people in Hampshire slapped with fines for drunken behaviour fell by 40 per cent in three years – bucking a national increase.

However, 400 fixed penalty notices were still issued to people aged under 26 in the county for crimes such as drunk and disorderly behaviour – 55 of them to under-18s.

The Home Office figures revealed a significant drop in fines linked to alcohol-fuelled bad behaviour during 2007, the latest year for which statistics are available, compared with the 674 notices handed out in 2004.

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Records also revealed the number of youngsters in the county convicted in courts for drunken crimes also fell over the same period – from 288 to 119.

Nationally, the number of young people fined for bad drunken behaviour almost doubled from 15,336 to 28,215 between 2004 and 2007, while the number convicted in court fell from 9,571 to 7,406 over the same period.

Despite the reduction in offences and fines in Hampshire, Eastleigh MP Chris Huhne called for “careful consideration’’ to be given to a ban on cheap alcohol to tackle binge drinking.

Mr Huhne, the Liberal Democrats’ home affairs spokesman, said Chief Medical Officer Liam Donaldson’s proposal for a “minimum price’’ for units of alcohol would be one way of ending the “deep discounting and loss-leading sales’’ of alcohol, which contributed to excessive drinking.

Dr Donaldson said earlier this year that each unit of alcohol should be sold for no less than 50p, taking the price of an average six pack of lager to £6.

But the proposal was rejected by Prime Minister Gordon Brown who said the Government did not want to penalise the vast majority of sensible drinkers.

However, a Parliamentary early day motion tabled by Mr Huhne argues that the cheaper the alcohol, the more of it people drink, and notes the “damage caused by alcohol misuse to individuals, families and society’’.

The motion, which has been signed by 12 MPs, says 80 per cent of people think more should be done to tackle alcohol abuse and calls on Government to “make careful consideration’’of calls to impose a minimum price of alcohol as a means of ending the supply of cut-price alcohol.