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Tackling the sale of super strength alcohol

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A culture change is needed amongst retailers who sell super strength alcohol products to help reduce crime and improve health in their local communities, according to research carried out by Leeds City Council.

The council’s licensing committee will next week consider evidence gathered as part of research into Super Strength Alcohol Schemes which have been introduced in other areas of the country. The research was carried out to determine if a similar scheme should be introduced in Leeds, in order to try to reduce anti-social behaviour and improve health in local communities.

The report, being considered at a meeting of the licensing committee on Tuesday July 8, proposes that in Leeds, rather than introduce a single voluntary scheme which tackles super strength products in isolation, retailers be approached as part of other schemes and programmes in order to raise awareness and bring about a culture change.

Coun Mary Harland, chair of the licensing committee said: “Unfortunately there is no quick, catch-all solution to antisocial behaviour and health problems caused by drinking alcohol, so ideally we want to introduce a series of measures which bring about long-term change in people’s drinking habits.

“There are only limited ways we can achieve this through licensing regulations, but there are existing schemes and programmes in place which we can utilise to raise awareness and help promote responsible retailing.

“We want retailers to consider the role they play in their community, the impact the sale of super strength alcohol products has on their neighbourhood and the benefits of removing them from sale.”

There are a number of schemes and programmes already in place which could be used to connect with retailers and raise awareness of the issues. They are:

• Local licensing guidelines – can be used when new or variation applications are submitted in vulnerable areas, to encourage responsible retailing.

• Retailing forum – being set up as part of the Town and District Centre regeneration scheme.

• Responsible retailing – a Trading Standards initiative that working with retailers.

The group which carried out the research on behalf of the committee was made up of officers from public health, Acute Trust, area committees, community safety and licensing.

The research carried out looked at the success of voluntary schemes, requiring retailers to voluntarily remove high strength, low cost alcohol from sale, as well as schemes which require voluntary introduction of minimum prices for high strength alcohol.

As well as looking at how schemes have been introduced in other areas of the country, the group also gathered evidence within Leeds, to determine how successful a similar scheme would be, and whether retailers would be supportive of such a scheme.

The research showed that it was difficult to differentiate between crime and disorder, and health issues, associated with high-strength alcohol as opposed to lower strength alcohol. It was also identified that not all retailers would sign up to the voluntary scheme, in particular those who did not experience any problems with antisocial behaviour in their premises.

 

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