December 12 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Ipswich police have hailed a trailblazing campaign to banish super-strength alcohol as being behind a 24% drop in street drinking.
Reducing the Strength began a year ago and has attracted national interest with other towns and cities following Ipswich’s lead.
Officers said analysis of the Austin Street area which had suffered from anti-social behaviour (ASB) linked to alcohol has seen a 73% year-on-year reduction in reports of street drinking and a 31% reduction in crime.
The East of England Co-operative Society has supported the campaign – which is also backed by the Ipswich Star - from the outset. All the company’s Suffolk stores have also signed the pledge.
Ninety out of Ipswich’s 138 off-licences have voluntarily stopped selling high-volume low-cost lagers, ciders and beer.
Year-on-year the number of times police in Ipswich were contacted about problems involving street drinkers has dropped from 341 to 261.
The pioneering campaign has reached beyond Suffolk, with enquiries continuing to come in from police forces and councils across the UK who are interested in setting up similar initiatives.
Hastings, Portsmouth and Nottingham have already followed Ipswich’s lead.
Reducing the Strength involves retailers agreeing to remove cheap, super-strength products of 6.5% or more from their stores, and ideally, changing their premises’ licence to prevent the store them from ever selling these items.
The initiative also works hand-in-glove with other agencies to ensure street drinkers can get help for their alcoholism and have an opportunity of leading a normal life.
Assistant Chief Constable Tim Newcomb said, “A huge amount of work has gone on since we launched Reducing the Strength a year ago and we are extremely pleased with the effect it has had locally and across the UK.
“The continued drop in reports of street drinking is a clear reflection that our efforts are working, and that this activity, which is anti-social and intimidating to many people, is happening far less often.
“Not only does this mean our communities are safer, it also suggests that those vulnerable people who engage in street drinking are receiving the services and treatment they require.
Simon Aalders, Public Health Manager said, Simon Aalders of Suffolk Public Health said, “This campaign has been an extremely effective way for us to take pro-active, positive measures to improve the health of many vulnerable people in our local communities.”
Reducing the Strength is a multi-agency campaign run by Suffolk Police, Ipswich Borough Council, Suffolk County Council, NHS Suffolk and the East of England Co-operative Society.