Big fall in boozing and brawling in Ipswich’s streets as Reducing the Strength campaign hailed

Officers detain a reveller in Ipswich town centre.

Officers detain a reveller in Ipswich town centre. - Credit: Archant

A clamp down on off-licences selling super-strength alcohol has been cited as a key reason behind a sharp drop in the number of people boozing and brawling in the streets of Ipswich.

Community leaders hailed the nationally-acclaimed Reducing the Strength campaign for creating a “safer town centre” in Ipswich for residents and tourists.

Figures released by Suffolk Constabulary under Freedom of Information laws showed offences for being drunk and disorderly in a public place in Ipswich fell by 26% from 2012 to 2014, from 342 to 253.

Violence against person offences also fell by 31% in the same two-year period in the town, from 1,137 to 789.

Reducing the Strength was launched in Ipswich in September 2012 as part of a multi-agency strategy to eradicate the anti-social behaviour of street drinkers, which has serious effects on consumers and communities.

More than 100 out of around 142 off-licences and retailers in Ipswich (over 70%) have taken the pledge not to sell low-cost, high-volume alcohol, the latest figures show.

Police say new licensees must now discuss signing up to the voluntary initiative.

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Neil MacDonald, Ipswich Borough Council’s portfolio holder for Safer Ipswich, hailed the campaign for helping to make lives of the people who live and trade in the town more tolerable.

He said: “These figures show an encouraging trend and are testament to the success of our close working partnership with the police and other agencies.

“In particular, the Reducing the Strength campaign, which other towns and cities have copied, has helped us to create a safer town centre by removing super strength drinks from the shelves of most off-licences.

“We are not complacent but this shows our campaigns are working and a partnership approach remains crucial.”

Separate figures released by police earlier this year showed the number of police-recorded offences at clubs and pubs in Ipswich fell from 694 in 2011/12 to 503 in 2013/14.

Joanne Miah, of Suffolk Constabulary’s night-time economy team, said officers regularly monitor off-licences to ensure they trade responsibly.

She said: “Within the past eight months, three venues have been reviewed and a number of objections made to the extension of opening hours through temporary event notices.

“This sends a clear message that licensees will not be permitted to open for longer hours if they cannot comply with the law.

“Officers also help to educate premises and their staff about protecting vulnerable and intoxicated individuals to prevent them from becoming a victim and regularly issue safety advice and crime reduction campaigns on how to stay safe and protect yourself on a night out.”

Paul Clement, chief executive of Ipswich Central, added: “Much hard work by a number of organisations is working.

“Alongside the police and the council, Ipswich Central helps to provide taxi marshals, the Best Bar None scheme, the Radiolink scheme, street rangers and the retail banning order scheme.

“I am delighted that it has, again, been shown to be having the desired effect.”