Campaign to tackle alcohol related crime welcomed

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Police and council officials have welcomed Nottinghamshire’s inclusion in a new phase of a drive to tackle alcohol-related crime and health harms and create a more diverse night-time economy.

The Home Office has today (Friday, January 27) launched the second phase of the Local Alcohol Action Areas (LAAA) programme which will involve training night time economy workers to spot and support vulnerable people, establishing safe spaces, awareness raising campaigns around alcohol misuse and domestic violence, and reviewing public transport.

The programme will run for two years and LAAA areas will also be put in touch with mentors who have successfully tackled the issues that they face and will come together to problem solve and share best practice.

It comes after Nottinghamshire was part of the first phase of the programme when it was launched in February 2014, covering 20 areas. It has now been widened to cover 33 other parts of the country.

Each area will be supported by the Government to implement their plan which will see local agencies including licensing authorities, health bodies, and police coming together with businesses to address problems caused by alcohol in their local area.

Chief Inspector Mark Stanley, City Centre and Community Protection Policing, Nottinghamshire Police, said: “I am delighted that Nottingham and Nottinghamshire have been selected to participate in the Local Alcohol Action Area 2 program. 

“Under the first Local Alcohol Action Area scheme Nottingham benefited from the access to best practice from other areas across the country and has since mainstreamed several new beneficial approaches. We also developed productive relationships with key national partners such as Drinkaware. I am determined to build on the success of the first program to ensure Nottingham’s night time economy remains a safe, attractive and thriving asset to our city.”

Nicola Heaton, portfolio holder for Community Services at Nottingham City Council, also welcomed Nottingham’s inclusion in the second phase of the programme.

She said: “Tackling alcohol misuse is something we take very seriously in Nottingham. As well as moving towards a city-wide ban on nuisance street drinking, we have also taken steps to ban super-strength beers, lagers and ciders from shops in the city.

“Our success with these and other alcohol initiatives has helped us to repeatedly gain the Purple Flag Award – a status which gives people the reassurance that they can enjoy a safe night out in our city.”

The first phase of LAAA included a variety of interventions introduced to reduce street drinking, vulnerability and violence. These ranged from Club Hosts patrolling bars to offer help to those who are vulnerable, to mandatory safeguarding training for taxi drivers, increased trading standards activity on underage sales of alcohol, to a triage service for street drinkers, and even a non-alcoholic bar for teenagers.

Nottinghamshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Paddy Tipping remains committed to collective action from all the organisations impacted by alcohol-related issues. Today he said: “Tackling alcohol-related issues is still a key priority and Nottinghamshire is at the forefront of this work. I’m delighted to see that we will continue to have the support of the LAAA which will help us to develop our partnership approach still further and share best practice with others facing similar challenges.  We’ve come a long way but there is always more to do. At the end of the night I want people to have had a good, but safe, time.”

National charity Drinkaware also launched its Drinkaware Crew scheme to tackle vulnerability in the night time economy as part of the first phase of the Nottinghamshire LAAA and is now looking to expand it into other areas.

Elaine Hindal, Chief Executive of Drinkaware, said: “Drinkaware is delighted to be a partner to the Home Office’s new Local Alcohol Action Areas. “Partnership-working is crucial to tackling alcohol harm and the LAAA project has been shown to have a galvanising impact which can foster innovation.

“Drinkaware’s now nation-wide scheme to tackle vulnerability in the night time economy - Drinkaware Crew - started in the Nottinghamshire LAAA and we look forward to expanding Drinkaware Crew into new areas and continuing in collaboration to develop new interventions to reduce alcohol-related harm.”

Alcohol-related crime and disorder costs an estimated £11 billion per year in England and Wales, and the Government has said it wants to support local communities in reducing the scenes of drunkenness and violence that blight communities, particularly at night.

Sarah Newton, Minister for Vulnerability, Safeguarding and Countering Extremism, said: “Local Alcohol Action Areas demonstrate the Government’s commitment to work with industry, police, local authorities and other partners to make our streets safer.

“Violent crimes involving alcohol have fallen over the last decade - but it is clear that alcohol misuse has a significant impact on communities across the country.

“Our pubs, bars and restaurants make a valuable contribution to our economy and our society and it is important that people are able to enjoy them without the fear of becoming a victim of crime.”