Stores stopped selling super strength alcohol following campaign
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A long-running campaign to tackle street drinking in Ipswich has seen 86 off-licences in the town stop selling super strength alcohol since 2016, a new report has revealed.
The 'Reducing the Strength' campaign was first launched in Ipswich in 2012 to tackle the consumption of high-strength, cheap alcohol from around 6.5% ABV (Alcohol by Volume) upwards and associated crime and anti-social behaviour.
The three-pronged scheme saw off-licences asked to stop selling high-strength alcohol, police take action on street drinking disturbances, and the county council invest in outreach workers to encourage drinkers into treatment.
The Ipswich Borough Council project was launched in conjunction with Suffolk police, Suffolk County Council and the NHS.
The East of England Co-op joined the campaign shortly after and voluntarily removed all alcohol with an ABV of 6.5% or more.
Sales figures from the Co-op, before they became involved, showed in some very deprived areas sales of 6.5% ABV and above accounted for nearly a fifth of alcohol sales.
An update on the campaign, requested following a meeting of the borough council's licensing and regulatory committee on August 7 revealed that 86 premises are no longer selling super strength alcohol.
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The report said of the 153 premises licences in place in 2016, 15 had closed, 46 have a condition on the licence which prevents the sale of super strength beers, lager and cider and 40 removed them voluntarily.
Since 2016, eight premises have been issued for convenience stores selling alcohol and, of these, seven have been issued with the condition preventing the sale of super strength alcohol, the report added.
Following the campaign in Ipswich, the Local Government Association produced guidance for councils who were considering setting up a scheme.
A spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council said: "Our Reducing the Strength campaign has led the way and encouraged other councils to follow suit with tackling the problems associated with street drinkers.
"Many of our original aims have been met, and we now channel our efforts through other community safety initiatives."
A Suffolk police spokesman said: "The idea behind removing super-strength alcohol from off-licences is about reducing risk and harm to the individuals drinking it and also to remove a potential cause of anti-social behaviour (ASB).
"There is always more we can do to address ASB, but the scheme does plays a key role and we are very happy to continue supporting it."