June 19 2013 Latest news:
BY NAOMI GORNALL
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
A TRAILBLAZING campaign to rid the town of cheap super-strength alcohol and help reduce street drinking has been hailed as an example to the rest of the country.
• The Reducing The Strength training day was funded by the SAB Miller Scholars Programme and those that attended were given the chance to get the British Institute of Innkeeping • Awarding Body (BIIAB) Award in Responsible Alcohol Retailing.
• The venue was provided free of charge by the Ramada Hotel.
• The Reducing the Strength campaign was launched in the town in September.
•The campaign aims to stop the sale of cheap super-strength beer, lager and cider from off-licensed premises.
• The campaign is a joint initiative between Suffolk Police, NHS Suffolk, Ipswich Borough Council, Suffolk County Council and the East of England Co-Operative Society.
• Reducing the Strength asks off-licence owners to voluntarily remove super-strength products from their stores.
Backed by the Ipswich Star, the Reducing the Strength campaign, a joint initiative with various agencies which aims to stop the sale of super-strength products from off-licensed premises, has been declared a success with 75% of premises signed up to the scheme and a significant drop in the amount of street drinking incidents.
A total of 70 premises have now joined the campaign out of 122 in the town.
Yesterday representatives from 24 off and on-licensed premises in Ipswich, which have signed up to the scheme, took part in a training session run by firm Day One and supported by the council, police and health service. The idea was to give retailers an increased awareness and understanding about the sale of alcohol.
The aim now is to get the other remaining businesses to sign up.
Among those attending the event was Chandima Perera, who runs the BP garage in Spring Road. He used to sell super-strength alcohol but has since stopped after deciding to back the campaign.
He said: “After talking to the police, I noticed more street drinkers so I decided I needed to support the community. Since I stopped selling them, my sales did not go down and I got more recognition from the community. I am more of a responsible seller now.”
Pc Gary Pinyoun, licensing officer at Suffolk Police, said: “Suffolk is showing the way for the rest of the country in this. We have been receiving calls from all over the country from forces asking how we have done it, and asking for our advice and input.
“The number of street drinking incidents has dropped significantly since we started this initiative.
“We want them [off-licence owners] to understand the benefits of this scheme. I think there is a perception it could affect their trade but I know that is not the case.”
Ben Gummer, Ipswich MP, who supported and opened the event, said there was still some way to go to completely eradicate the problem of street drinking.
He said: “It’s already having an effect on anti-social behaviour in the town centre but we still haven’t solved the problem.
“Whilst there are still retailers offering super-strength low cost alcohol to vulnerable alcoholics, then we will not deal with the problems that come with that.
“I would say to the retailers that have not joined up to take a look at themselves and look at the damage they are perpetuating.
“These drinks are almost entirely bought by alcoholics who have an addiction and it makes it that much harder for people to help them and deal with the problems they cause if they continue to serve them.”
Pc John Alcock, who has been instrumental in driving forward the campaign, added: “Licensing teams at Suffolk Police and Ipswich Borough Council work very hard to ensure that premises in the town adhere to the strict regulations required of them to ensure responsible retailing.
“Our recent campaign has brought issues surrounding the sale of alcohol to public attention and it is fantastic that with help from other organisations such as Day One, we can put further long lasting plans in place to ensure this positive action continues.”