The criminal justice, health, local councils and voluntary sectors are uniting with other partners across Nottinghamshire to achieve more effective and long-term solutions to alcohol misuse.
Their united front towards prevention and cure follows the Alcohol Conference in July 2013 when partners discussed the impact of excessive drinking on crime and health, and the burden it places on taxpayers. Their knowledge and experience along with the views of people affected by alcohol misuse is now reflected in the Alcohol Strategy and Action Plan .
This set out how partners will work together to reduce alcohol abuse and its links to issues that include violent crime, domestic abuse and hospital admissions, while protecting the prosperity of the night time economy.
A survey of residents in 2013 demonstrated overwhelming support for tougher controls on alcohol sales, marketing and promotion and drink driving. There was also strong support for greater controls over the hours of sale, minimum unit pricing and restrictions over drinking in public.
The result of this and the discussions of partners is a fresh alcohol action plan with five strategic themes:
- Working together and sharing intelligence
- Early intervention and education
- Treatment and support
- Diversion and prevention
Partners have agreed to use innovative approaches in Nottinghamshire that have been trialled elsewhere in the country in the hope of delivering similar success as well as improving information sharing between local agencies including hospitals and ambulance trusts. Other aims include increasing the effectiveness of schemes such as Pubwatch and introducing service level agreements between alcohol treatment providers and local domestic violence services.
Plans to step up enforcement include increasing the number of licensing officers employed by Nottinghamshire Police as well as expanding the number of proactive licensing visits in crime hotspots to check compliance. They also intend to intervene earlier to prevent those already under the influence of alcohol drinking to excess by using legal powers.
Eight in ten people living in Nottinghamshire believe children and young people should receive more education about the perils of alcohol abuse, the survey found.
More than half of those who took part in the survey admitted that alcohol use is a problem in their neighbourhood, town or city. Of those surveyed, 80% wanted greater controls over under-age drinking, 80% wanted increased enforcement over drink driving and 67% of people wanted to see more controls over drinking in public.
Importantly, the public appeared to share the view that education is key to helping to steer young people towards a healthy, law-abiding lifestyle with 83% of respondents saying more work was needed in this area. This was closely followed by greater enforcement and prosecution which received support from 61% of residents and increased public awareness which was backed by 57% of those who took part in the survey.
Other findings included:
- strong support for greater controls over the hours of sale with 49% of respondents wanting more controls compared to 20% who felt there should be less.
- just over half of respondents felt that nightclubs and pubs were open too long. A total of 46% of people supported minimum unit pricing strategy while 60% of people said retailers, public houses and clubs should cover the cost of policing the night-time economy rather than local people through council tax charges.
The path to recovery
The Alcohol Strategy focused on both prevention and cure. Together with partners, a multifaceted programme of action expanded treatment and support services, stepped up enforcement, made it harder for young people to purchase alcohol and provide early intervention.