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Alcohol Action Areas

In the latest Government effort to tackle drink-fuelled crime and disorder, 20 areas across England and Wales are being set up as Local Alcohol Action Areas (LAAAs).

According to the Home Office, the LAAAs will also be focused on promoting what the Government terms diverse night time economies. One of the 20 is Northamptonshire. In Northants, Chief Inspector Dave Spencer, the force lead for alcohol harm reduction, said: “I am really pleased the county has been selected as a Local Alcohol Action area. This provides a good opportunity for the county to further develop ways to challenge its relationship with alcohol.

“What this means in practical terms is greater access to Home Office and Health Department expertise, giving us greater leverage and added impetus to the extensive work we are already doing in Northamptonshire to tackle alcohol harm.

“The main focus will be on the main county’s towns where lots of people go out on Friday and Saturday nights, and in areas where binge drinking and excessive alcohol consumption places an excessive burden on hospitals and health practitioners. It will give strength to the work we are already doing, along with our partner agencies, to tackle the drinking habits of people who frequently place demands on our public services and help us raise awareness of the issues associated with alcohol misuse.

“It will help us achieve our aim to reduce violent crime by 40 per cent and help improve our town centres to make them safer, vibrant and more desirable places to visit.”

Crime Prevention Minister and Lib Dem MP Norman Baker said: “The coalition government is taking a wide range of action to tackle alcohol-related harm, which is thought to cost society around £21 billion a year. We have already given local areas the power to restrict the sale of alcohol in the early hours and ensure those who profit from a late night licence help pay towards the costs of policing.

Mr Baker said that he was pressing the industry itself to take more responsibility for the problems that inappropriate use of their products cause.

Each ‘action area’ will receive support from the Home Office, the Department of Health, the Welsh Government, Public Health England and Public Health Wales. The LAAAs areas will be put in touch with mentor areas that have tackled the same issues faced by alcohol action areas.

Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England said: “Public Health England welcomes the launch of the Local Alcohol Action Areas and we are particularly pleased to see that most have chosen to include reducing alcohol related health harms as a key aim of their projects. Local areas have a range of measures at their disposal to improve individual and public health, as well as community safety. Between them, the areas announced today have the potential to build strong evidence of what works to tackle alcohol harms in the community.”

The areas will see local agencies, including licensing authorities, health bodies and the police, work with businesses and others to address the problems caused by alcohol.

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At the trade body the British Beer and Pub Association, Brigid Simmonds, BBPA Chief Executive, said: “This is a good step forward in showing the positive difference local partnerships can make. Through support for schemes such as Pubwatch, Business Improvement Districts, Best Bar None, Street Pastors and Purple Flag, the industry is already very active. We will use these networks, and our members’ local knowledge, to help make these pilots work, and show that partnerships between industry, the local community, police, and councils are the best way to tackle local issues.”


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