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Ipswich: Super-strength alcohol crackdown has led to significant fall in street drinker crimes

PUBLISHED: 12:50 03 April 2013 | UPDATED: 12:50 03 April 2013

The Reducing the Strength campaign has seen a fall in offending

The Reducing the Strength campaign has seen a fall in offending

Archant

A CAMPAIGN launched to prevent the sale of super strength alcohol in Ipswich has seen a 50 per cent fall in offending by street drinkers in the town, it emerged today.

It is six months since the launch of the Reducing the Strength initiative and police say two thirds of Ipswich’s 122 off-licensed premises have now signed up.

Support has also come from a number of national retailers, including the East of England Co-op, Tesco, Martin McColl, Debenhams, Marks and Spencer, BHS, Waitrose, Sainsburys and Aldi.

Figures also show a stark reduction in the number of calls to the police reporting incidents of concern involving street drinkers. Ninety-four such incidents were reported to police in the six months from the launch of the campaign (September 2012 to March 2013), compared with 191 in the same period a year earlier. This equates to a drop of 49.2%.

Under ‘Start Afresh’, an Operation launched in 2011 to tackle issues surrounding street drinking in the town, improvements have been made. By the end of 2012, there was a 20% reduction in the number of individuals defined as being part of the street drinking community.

Businesses have reported positive effects, with surveys revealing a 20% reduction in the number of traders who stated that they witnessed a high level of street drinking around their premises.

Owners of independent off license Springs in Spring Road, which is signed up to the campaign, have also reported an increase in profits since the removal of super strength products from their shelves.

The campaign, run by Suffolk Police, Ipswich Borough Council, Suffolk County Council, NHS Suffolk and the East of England Co-operative Society, is voluntary, and asks the owners of off-licensed premises to remove all beers, lagers and ciders that have an alcohol volume of 6.5% or more and are sold very cheaply, from their shelves.

It also asks that they make a variation to their premises licence to prevent these items being sold in the future.

Assistant Chief Constable Tim Newcomb said: “Six months have passed since we launched our campaign, which is the first of its kind in the UK. It is important that we now look at its effect and gauge how successful it has been in achieving the results we originally hoped for.

“Our aims at the outset were clear; significant problems associated with the sale and consumption of these drinks, for both individuals and communities had been identified, and we wanted to specifically address these.

“We wanted to reduce the number of stores selling these products, therefore limiting the availability of these drinks to those who are vulnerable, and to reduce the amount of crime and anti social behaviour occurring in and around off-licensed premises in the town.”

“A significant number of police forces and public sector agencies across the UK have been in contact with us to talk about our campaign and how it has been put together, and we look forward to assisting others in setting up similar initiatives and looking at the potential for rolling it out across the county.”

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