Ipswich: Reducing the Strength campaign hailed for cutting crime committed by street drinkers
PUBLISHED: 10:46 21 July 2014 | UPDATED: 10:46 21 July 2014
Crime committed by street drinkers has dramatically fallen thanks to a nationally-acclaimed campaign to banish super-strength alcohol from being sold in Ipswich.
More than 100 out of around 142 off licences and retailers across the town have taken the pledge not to sell low-cost, high-volume alcohol and signed up to the Reducing the Strength campaign. And according to figures in Suffolk’s first Health and Wellbeing annual report, the pioneering initiative has led to a 43% reduction of crime committed by street drinkers in a year.
Alan Murray, a member of the health and wellbeing board at Suffolk County Council, put the success of the initiative down to “partnership and persistence”.
He said: “It has got so many different partners involved. Alone we can do nothing but together we can achieve such a lot and this has proved that.
“It’s partnership work and persistence. After six months or a year you feel like giving up because the initial results are not great but if you do it year after year, that’s when you get the most value out of it.”
Reducing the Strength was launched in September 2012 as part of a multi-agency strategy to eradicate the anti-social problem behaviour of street drinkers which has serious effects on consumers and communities.
It was set up by police and partner agencies including the East of England Co-op, Suffolk Constabulary, Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council and is backed by the Ipswich Star and BBC Radio Suffolk.
Mr Murray added: “We are getting people to commit to rehab, with increasing numbers of people coming out and not drinking again.
“And there are a lot fewer street drinkers on the streets than there were before so the scheme is providing real value for money.
“It has had an immeasurable impact on Ipswich and other people feel better not seeing street drinkers around the town.”
Reducing the Strength won national recognition for being the “most innovative scheme” in the country in the first year after its launch.
“In terms of investment, the outcomes we are achieving and second to none,” Mr Murray said. “We are being asked to comment on other schemes across the county because of our success in Ipswich.”