Ipswich/ Suffolk: Our �30million booze bill – the shock cost of the county’s swig society is revealed

IPSWICH: A grim snapshot of the “horrific” grip alcohol has on Ipswich and Suffolk can today be revealed – as an MP tells of proposals to make licensed premises pay towards the cost of policing in a bid to stem the epidemic.

In a shocking report uncovered by The Evening Star, we can reveal:

n Treating booze-related illness costs Suffolk a staggering �30million a year;

n Rates of alcohol-fuelled crime is higher in Ipswich than in London and Liverpool;

n Drink-related admissions to Ipswich Hospital are spiralling;

n Nearly 7,000 crimes were committed in Suffolk in 2009/10 which were booze-related;

n Alcohol-related violent crime and sexual offences in Ipswich are higher than the regional averages.

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Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said “urgent action” is needed to tackle the problem – and put an end to the familiar sight of ambulances queuing in the town centre on Friday and Saturday nights.

He said legislation expected to reach parliament soon will see proposals for bars and nightclubs to share the cost of policing outside their premises.

It is hoped the move will encourage licensed premises to act more responsibly and stop serving people who have clearly had enough to drink. As well as changes proposed to policing, Mr Gummer said councils could soon have more control over the number of licensed premises in an area and the length of their opening hours.

“It is important the town centre can be enjoyed by people of all ages in the evenings,” he said.

“Older people should feel they want to get out into town for dinner or drinks without having to face lots of drunk people.”

The report, published by the North West Public Health Observatory at Liverpool John Moores University, reveals alcohol-related crime in Ipswich is higher per 1,000 in the population than London and Liverpool.

In Ipswich, the rate of crime per 1,000 of the population is 11.9 compared to 11.7 in London and nine in Liverpool.

Meanwhile, for alcohol-related violent crimes, the report reveals rates in Ipswich, per 1,000 of the population, is 9.6 compared with the regional figure of 4.5, and rates for alcohol-related sexual offences is 0.2 in Ipswich, up slightly from the regional average of 0.1.

For alcohol-attributable hospital admissions in Ipswich over the five-year period 2004/05 to 2008/09, there has been a dramatic increase of 21 per cent for males, the number rising from 1,200 per 100,000 of the population in 2004/05 to 1,478 in 2008/09.

Similarly, female booze-related hospital admissions are up 13pc from 693 per 100,000 in 2004/05 to 788 in 2008/09.

The report also reveals rates of alcohol-specific hospital admissions per 100,000 for under 18s. In Ipswich, it is 49.6 compared to the regional average of 34.7.

n What do you think of the effect alcohol has on the town? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk