Mountain of booze you can buy – for just �65

IPSWICH: The war on street drinkers is taking a new twist today as officers look to the source of the problem.

Police have seized more than 600 cans of super strength lager and bulging bottles of cider in the past year from underage drinkers and the alcoholics that congregate in the town in defiance to the alcohol ban.

But now those involved in Operation Afresh are turning their attentions to the shops that sell these potent lines of booze.

Pc John Alcock, Ipswich’s Street Drinking liaison officer, said: “Research shows these strong lagers and white ciders, which can be up to nine per cent volume, are almost exclusively consumed by the young or people who are alcohol dependent.

“Experiments in Westminster show that when you remove it from the shelves you start getting a reduction in anti-social behaviour and acquisitive crime like shoplifting.”

On this basis, Pc Alcock and colleagues from the licensing team, Anglia Care Trust and the council have set up a voluntary scheme to encourage shopkeepers to remove these items from the shelves.

“You can buy two litres of strong cider for �3 and there are individuals I am aware of who are drinking that each day.

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“We want to reduce, as much as we can, the supply of this super- strength alcohol.”

The Evening Star spent �65 – the weekly job seeker’s allowance – on a hoard of cheap alcohol to illustrate how easily highly intoxicating bargain booze is to get hold of.

Reporter Natalie Hoodless visited three stores and returned with vodka, beer, cider and whisky.

In all, the bumper collection contained a staggering 246 units – nearly 12 times the recommended weekly intake for a man and 17 times the allowance for a woman.

The scheme is still in its infancy – indeed The Evening Star was able to purchase three-litre bottles of 7.5pc volume ciders and cans of lager containing 4.5 units of alcohol at three different licensed stores in Ipswich. The recommended weekly alcohol intake for women is 14 units and for men 21 units.

“A lot of retailers are saying it is a good idea,” said Pc Alcock of the voluntary scheme. “They don’t want young drinkers or those with an addiction in their shops because they know it attracts the attention of the licensing authorities.”

Simon Aalders, team manager for Suffolk Drug and Alcohol Action Team, said: “We would not advocate anyone spending their state benefits on alcohol. Super-strength alcohol by definition will very quickly put someone over their safe limit, and over time can lead to significant life-long health problems.”