Partnership, not punishment the key to addressing alcohol harms

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Responding to today’s reports that senior police have branded the UK’s drinking culture “out-of-control”, the ALMR has argued that pubs and clubs in the UK are contributing to positive changes in attitudes towards alcohol consumption and called for this work to be acknowledged.

The ALMR has also warned that heavy-handed blanket measures may have the unintended effect of creating or displacing problems.

An article in the Daily Mail reported that Chief Constable Adrian Lee will today call for a weekend of action on drunkenness, tougher action against the alcohol industry and referred to Britain’s “excessive boozing culture”.

ALMR Chief Executive, Kate Nicholls said: “The language being used in the press certainly makes for daunting reading, but the truth is nowhere near as desperate. By every measure, sales and consumption of alcohol are down dramatically as are incidents of disorder. Over seventy per cent of all alcohol sold in the UK is for consumption in the home and total alcohol consumption is at its lowest for a century. Additionally, instances of alcohol-related violent crime have declined 32 per cent since 2004. To suggest that our towns and city centres have become unmanageable no-go zones is misleading and unhelpful.

“Pubs and clubs across the UK are investing time, energy and money in promoting best practice and partnership schemes such as Best Bar None and they are working. Earlier this year a National Pubwatch report stated that 79% of police believed Pubwatch schemes had contributed to declining levels of crime.”

“If a problem arises in a certain area, we want to work with local authorities and local police forces to address those issues; clumsy responses such as a blanket introduction of mandatory breath tests and a roll-out of drunk tanks may not have the intended effect and could simply increase consumption and problems in a domestic setting.”

“Our staff members behind the bars and on the doors already do a fantastic job managing customers and there is a risk that heavy-handed measures may only displace the problem. Antagonising large queues and groups of people will likely increase the risk for frontline staff already in harm’s way. We also need to be careful that we do not push any problems into the home, away from where we can deal with them.

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