Buckfast-brewing monks under siege from vandals and thieves


By Oliver Farrimond

BUCKFAST-brewing monks are being targeted in a petty crime wave of vandalism and theft.

Monks brewing the tonic wine have been forced to install a state-of-the-art security system to keep criminals at bay from Buckfast Abbey, where the wine is made.

The historic Devon monastery is famous for brewing the caffeinated drink, which has itself been linked by police to a rise in anti-social violence in Scotland.

And now the ancient Abbey has been forced to beef up its security after being targeting in a spate of thefts and vandalism in recent months.

The cutting edge security system installed at the Abbey includes 20 digital cameras linked to a central control unit, which can automatically capture and record car licence plates.

Leigh Searle, who manages the abbey’s IT systems, said: “A monastery is not the kind of place you would expect to find a CCTV system.

“People tend to think of monks leading a serene way of life.

“But the fact is, like many other historic buildings in the country, we have been targeted by criminal gangs so we need to protect ourselves as best we can.”

Buckfast faced controversy earlier this year when it emerged that Strathclyde Police had specifically mentioned the drink in 5,000 crime reports over three years.

And police were led to specifically link Buckfast with violent crime after the reports mentioned Buckfast bottles being used as weapons 114 times.

Richard Baker, Justice Spokesman for the Scottish Labour Party, commented on the crime wave.

He said: “The link between anti-social behaviour and caffeinated alcohol has always been clear, but I wouldn’t have bet on it becoming so utterly transparent.”

A standard 750ml bottle of Buckfast has the same amount of caffeine as eight cans of coke, and an alcohol content of 15 per cent.

The storm surrounding the controversial drink led Labour MSPs at Holyrood to propose setting a legal limit on the level of caffeine in alcohol drinks.

Chandler & Co, who distribute Buckfast in Scotland, said that the drink was being blamed unfairly for Scotland’s social problems.

Jim Wilson, a spokesman for the firm, said: “It is wrong to concentrate on any one brand and single us out.”

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