Ipswich: Towns and cities look to Ipswich for lead on stopping street drinking

Ipswich blazes a trail in effort to stop street drinking

Ipswich blazes a trail in effort to stop street drinking - Credit: PA

DOZENS of towns and cities across the country are seeking to emulate Ipswich’s pioneering crusade to banish super-strength alcohol from its off-licences.

The town’s Reducing the Strength campaign aimed at tackling problems associated with street drinking has led to Ipswich being seen as a trailblazer nationally.

Police are now looking out rolling out the initiative throughout Suffolk.

Inspector Andrew Mason, of Ipswich Police, said: “We have had about 50 enquiries from police forces and councils about the Reducing the Strength campaign.

“We have put together an e-mail pack to send to those who have contacted us.

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“Portsmouth and Lincoln have decided to appoint street drinking liaison officers like we have in Pc John Alcock.

“I made a presentation in London to 140 officers and we have boroughs such as Hackney and Camden coming to see us to see what we are doing.”

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A total of 80 of the town’s 122 off-licences have now voluntarily made the decision not to sell cheap, highly-potent lagers and ciders.

The move has seen a dramatic drop in crime and anti-social behaviour of nearly 50% related to street drinking since the initiative was launched six months ago.

The East of England Co-op has already taken super strength alcohol off the shelves in all 53 of its Suffolk stores. The campaign has been so successful it is now in high-level discussions about banishing it from all 135 of its off-licenced premises across East Anglia.

Ipswich attracted national media coverage for the campaign when it began last September.

Apart from Co-ops and independent retailers, Tesco, Martin McColl, Debenhams, Marks and Spencer, BHS, Waitrose, Sainsburys and Aldi are all backing the scheme.

Police have said reported incidents involving the street drinking community were reduced to 94 between September and March this year, compared with 191 during the same period the year before.

Among the other partners leading the campaign are Ipswich Borough Council, Suffolk County Council, and NHS Suffolk.

‘Start Afresh’, the overarching operation launched in 2011 to tackle issues surrounding street drinking in Ipswich, has seen a number of improvements being made.

By the end of last year, there was a 20% reduction in the number of people defined as being part of the street drinking community.

It is not the first time Ipswich has been seen as a template for helping the vulnerable in society.

Following the Steve Wright murders in 2006, the town’s innovative street prostitution strategy was lauded by many and implemented elsewhere.

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