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News - 18 July 2009

Brighton is commended for efforts to counter underage drinking

Successful initiatives in the fight against underage sales of alcohol have been highlighted in a new study by the public body for better local regulation, LBRO, as part of a drive to help local councils and police forces keep alcohol out of the hands of the under 18’s.

LBRO is now urging others to adopt the best practice undertaken by local authorities and police forces in small cities and towns across the UK. Brighton & Hove was highlighted as a city operating good practice on combating the issues.

The study into reducing underage sales has recognised how skilled young people are at finding new ways to get hold of alcohol and the need for authorities to always stay one step ahead.

Other key themes include the importance of partnership working between the relevant organisations - engaging businesses who see themselves as part of the community and want to be part of the solution.

Lancashire County Council recognised that around half of the districts within the county were worse than the national average for health issues linked to alcohol. Lancashire looked to educating retailers and the general population with various initiatives including consulting with over 2000 young people to inform them of their alcohol awareness campaigns. In a successful project considered effective by 80 per cent of local licensees, Lancashire is targeting those who buy alcohol and pass it on to underage young people through their Campaign Against Proxy Sales (CAPS).

Brighton and Hove is an area with a thriving night-time economy and a high concentration of licensed premises. It has a high youth population and has suffered from problems such as street drinking and alcohol misuse. The city council has set out to change the culture of the night-time economy by encouraging activities where alcohol is not central to the event. Their focus has been around business support with 84% of licensees stating it as an effective method. Trading Standards offer advice and support to licensees through Business Support Visits, helping them consider the location of alcohol in the premises, building up staff confidence to challenge and refuse sales and generally raising awareness of underage issues.

LBRO is now keen to work with councils and police forces on identifying the initiatives that work best.

LBRO Chair Clive Grace said, “According to a recent TSI survey over a quarter of 14 to 17 year olds are able to purchase alcohol for themselves. Initiatives such as the ones identified in the study can lead to a reduction in anti-social behaviour and can make communities better places to live particularly on Friday and Saturday evenings. This is why LBRO is keen to take its work forward with local authorities to find the best ways to reduce the problem.”

According to the Department for Children, Schools and Families the number of alcohol units consumed by 11 – 15 year olds has doubled between 1990 and 2000 and has remained at the same level since. Alcohol misuse costs the health service around £2.7 billion per year as well as imposing wider costs on society such as crime and disorder, social and family breakdown and sickness absence.

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