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Ipswich: Street drinkers seeking rehabilitation thanks to campaign to ban super strength alcohol

PUBLISHED: 16:13 20 March 2013 | UPDATED: 16:13 20 March 2013

David Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council, presenting a Reducing the Strength plaque to Fathima Farhana, owner of Springs Off Licence.

David Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council, presenting a Reducing the Strength plaque to Fathima Farhana, owner of Springs Off Licence.

A CAMPAIGN aimed at ridding Ipswich of super-strength cheap alcohol has led to a number of street drinkers seeking rehabilitation, a top police officer revealed today.

Around two-thirds of off licences in the town have pledged to no longer stock products with a proof of 6.5% or more as part of the Reducing the Strength scheme, a joint initiative launched in September.

Chief inspector Andrew Mason, from Suffolk Police, said the campaign’s success had made it harder for alcoholics to buy potent ciders and beer, leading many to quit drinking altogether.

He said there has also been a reduction in incidents of anti-social behaviour and an increase in profits for some businesses.

Ch Insp Mason said: “The campaign is going really well.

“This super strength alcohol is targeted at the vulnerable people in society. What we are finding is responsible retailers are not selling these products as it is the right thing for the community.

“Some of the street drinkers are telling us the lack of availability of super strength alcohol is forcing them into rehabilitation because they cannot get it anymore.”

Fathima Farhana, owner of Springs Off Licence in Spring Road, used to sell super strength alcohol but stopped following a visit by police promoting the campaign. She has since noticed an increase in profit.

She said: “I would encourage other off licences to join the campaign.”

David Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council, said: “I think there is a misconception by some off licences that if they stop selling super strength alcohol, then profits will go down. However the majority see no difference or even a profit rise.

“Those businesses that continue to sell it will have more trouble with anti-social behaviour.”

The Village Store in Samuel Court, off Cemetery Road, is among those yet to sign up to the scheme. The store still sells several super strength products, including a three-litre bottle of Frosty Jacks and cans of Tenants Super.

Bakeerathan Bahi, co-owner of the shop, said: “We only took over here a month ago. We would like to co-operate about this and if everyone else stopped selling it, so would we. People who come to this shop are local customers. If we stop selling this alcohol here, they will go elsewhere. But we will discuss it.”

Following a chat with PCSO Kevin Smith and Mr Ellesmere, the owner agreed to put the products behind the counter and only have one brand on sale at a time. This will be reviewed in a month.

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