Hardyal Dhindsa, the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire, says he is hugely impressed by the results of a voluntary scheme in Ipswich designed to cut alcohol- related crime.
The town has witnessed a 49 per cent reduction in reported “street drinker events” during the first six months of a ‘Reducing the Strength’ campaign, which saw retailers taking low cost ultra-strong lager and cider off the shelves.
The experiment was launched by Suffolk police and the local Co-op last September amid concern about the behaviour of those habitually drinking the products. Now, some 80 out of 122 off-licences in Ipswich have voluntarily stopped selling cheap but highly-potent lagers and ciders. The police say this has helped to halve drink-related street crime.
The Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police, Adrian Lee, who has been looking at how police forces deal with alcohol abuse and crime reduction across the country as part of his national role leading the Association of Chief Police Officers' alcohol licensing group, is also an advocate of the scheme. He is not alone. Suffolk Police say they have received over 50 enquiries from police and local authorities regarding this pioneering scheme.
Derbyshire’s Deputy Commissioner is keen to explore the benefits of such an initiative in Derbyshire, which he believes would cut costs in healthcare alongside reduced crime rates.
He said: “We have long been aware of the problems caused by these super-strength alcoholic drinks, but while they are on the shelves people will continue to purchase them. This innovative scheme illustrates what can be done to tackle problems when different parties work together. The retailers have not noticed a reduction in turnover, while the benefits are plain to see.
“We are considering the overarching issues associated with alcohol with a wide range of partners, businesses and other organisations at our forthcoming Alcohol Summit to be held in June. I will be commending this idea for adoption, as it clearly helps us to deliver the objectives in the Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan.”
The recently published Police and Crime Plan outlines how crime and community safety issues will be tackled over the coming years. One of the key objectives is to “encourage further investigation into the issues surrounding alcohol-related crime and harm; explore ways to intervene early to prevent it – with support from our partners”. The Deputy Commissioner believes that this voluntary initiative would go a long way to delivering on that goal.
Posted on Tuesday 23rd April 2013