Posted: Monday 20th May 2013
We are fast approaching the first Alcohol Conference in Nottinghamshire and this week I’ve continued my research into local people’s views of alcohol consumption and the night-time economy.
The impact of alcohol misuse differs widely from community to community. Residents living close to an area frequented by revellers and those whose neighbourhood is blighted by drink-related anti-social behaviour every night of the week will obviously have much stronger views on alcohol and its effects than those who live in quieter, more rural areas. But regardless of where alcohol misuse takes place it enhances feelings of fear and makes people feel less safe across Nottinghamshire and in my view this greatly impacts on the quality of life of all residents.
My intention is to gather the views of everyone affected by alcohol misuse as I develop my Alcohol Strategy over the coming weeks. This week I joined the street pastors in Retford to see for myself the valuable work they are undertaking to support people who are caught up in unhealthy lifestyles and for whom alcohol is a catalyst for a number of problems.
I’ve said many times before that alcohol misuse won’t end with police enforcement alone, we need to tackle the deeper reasons behind excessive drinking and street pastors are already fulfilling a vital role, caring and listening to those who are becoming dependent on alcohol for different reasons. Talking through their problems with somebody who withholds judgement can often be the first step on their road to recovery and will have a cathartic effect on the community too, helping to restore peace and harmony to our streets.
Continuing with this theme, I had the pleasure of visiting the County Show last weekend where, despite the rain, I was able to chat one-to-one with lots of visitors and ask them for their views on policing, specifically around alcohol and the night-time economy for the purposes mentioned above. Residents from all corners of Nottinghamshire turned up to support the show so I was able to get a good representation of public mood towards drink-related anti-social behaviour and some of the issues surrounding alcohol sales including cheap promotions.
Also this week, I’ve continued my engagement with key partners to see how we might better tackle crime together. I was delighted to meet Mick Laurie, Chief Executive of Crimestoppers, to discuss the valuable work the charity undertakes to help solve crime. For many years, Crimestoppers has been empowering ordinary people to make a difference and rid their streets of crime and this sense of shared responsibility is a big part of my own vision for a safer Nottinghamshire. I also met members of Nottingham Social Housing Forum this week and paid visits to HMP Whatton and Kirkby Rotary Club as part of the extensive public engagement programme we have in place to understand the needs of local people.