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Bury St Edmunds/Haverhill: Campaign combatting sale of super-strength lager moves into west Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 12:18 04 February 2014 | UPDATED: 12:26 04 February 2014

PCSO Hannah Partington, Helen Lindfield, community development officer at St Edmundsbury Borough Council, Marcus Hammill, ,anager of Savers, in High Street, Haverhill, inspector Kevin Horton

PCSO Hannah Partington, Helen Lindfield, community development officer at St Edmundsbury Borough Council, Marcus Hammill, ,anager of Savers, in High Street, Haverhill, inspector Kevin Horton

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A campaign combatting the sale of super-strength alcohol from off licences has expanded into west Suffolk.

The Reducing the Strength campaign, which launched in Ipswich in September 2012 “to much acclaim both locally and nationally” was introduced yesterday in Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill, and a number of villages nearby.

A total of 34 off-licence owners in St Edmundbury have offered to become “Superheroes” by removing the products from their stores. It is hoped that many more will follow.

Inspector Kevin Horton, of the West Suffolk Operational Partnership Team, said “Although Bury St Edmunds and Haverhill do not have particular issues with street drinking in the same way that Ipswich did, Suffolk has led the way with this initiative and it seems only right to roll it out across the county.

“The idea behind removing these products is about reducing risk and harm to the individuals drinking it and also to remove a potential cause of anti-social behaviour, thereby making our towns and villages even safer places to live and work in.”

The scheme is also supported by St Edmundsbury District Council, Suffolk County Council, the NHS and the East of England Co-operative Society, which has agreed to remove super-strength alcohol from their stores nationwide.

Sara Mildmay-White, St Edmundsbury Borough Council cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “There is only one reason to drink cheap super strength alcohol and that is to achieve a damaging level of intoxication. This isn’t just harmful to the individual, but when it is done in a public place it can be harmful to the wider community.

“I fully support this campaign and offer my thanks and appreciation to the off-licence owners who are discriminating in stocking these products.”

In Ipswich, 60% of off-licensed premises have signed up to the scheme reports of street drinking in the 12 months since the campaign began, have dropped by almost 100 when compared to the same period the year before.

Analysis of an area in Ipswich that had suffered from antisocial behaviour linked to street drinking has seen a 73% reduction in reports of street drinking made to police and a 31% reduction in crime.

Mark Swann, manager of Savers in Abbeygate Street, Bury St Edmunds, commented: “I previously worked for a store in Ipswich which was part of the pilot scheme and have witnessed first-hand how successful it is.

“It is great to see the cooperation between police, council and retailers and the fact that it is a voluntary arrangement shows the commitment given by all parties to ensure its success and we are very happy to support it.”

Super-strength alcohol includes lager, beer and cider with an alcohol volume of 6.5% or over that is sold very cheaply.

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