Government chooses Gravesham as place to combat drink-fuelled crime and disorder
The government has launched a new project today to tackle the harmful effects of excessive drinking.
Twenty areas across England and Wales, including Gravesham, are being set up as Local Alcohol Action Areas (LAAAs) to combat drink-fuelled crime and disorder and the damage caused to people’s health.
Work in the LAAAs will also be focused on promoting diverse night time economies.
Crime Prevention Minister 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.
“The Local Alcohol Action Areas project I am launching today is another measure designed to tackle the problems caused by excessive alcohol use.
“In addition I am pressing the industry itself to take more responsibility for the problems that inappropriate use of their products cause.’’
The 20 Local Alcohol Action Areas are: Blackpool, Croydon, Doncaster, Gloucester City, Gravesham, Greater Manchester, Halton, Hastings, Liverpool, Middlesbrough, Newham, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Pembrokeshire, Scarborough, Slough Borough, Southend on Sea, Stoke on Trent, Swansea and Weston-super-Mare.
“Local areas have a range of measures at their disposal to improve individual and public health, as well as community safety" - Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England
Each action area will receive support and expertise from the Home Office, the Department of Health, the Welsh Government, Public Health England and Public Health Wales.
Gravesham council leader John Burden said: “While alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour in Gravesham may not be as great as seen in some of the country’s major city centres, its negative impact on a relatively small town centre is considerable and of concern to everyone.
“Alcohol misuse is clearly a contributory factor in violent crime including domestic abuse.
"The fear of crime discourages people from visiting the town and puts a strain on local services, particularly the police. It has a bad effect on trade and responsible publicans and retailers.
“We hope by attracting Home Office support we will be able to address the problem and begin to solve it.”
The LAAAs areas will be put in touch with mentor areas that have successfully tackled the same issues faced by alcohol action areas.
The project will run until March 2015, and this will be followed by a period of review and reporting.
A final report will be published in June 2015.
Gravesham council leader John Burden
Recorded anti-social behaviour incidents in Gravesham fell by almost 20% last year but Gravesham still has the third highest rate in Kent.
Gravesham council said street drinking was linked to 110 anti-social behaviour incidents in town last summer alone resulting in complaints from businesses.
Staff have been threatened and customers intimidated and there have been problems of public urination and bottles and litter being thrown on the streets.
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.
"This is a high priority for PHE and we look forward to providing our support and expertise to the LAAAs.”
The areas will see local agencies, including licensing authorities, health bodies and the police, work in partnership with businesses and other organisations to address the problems caused by alcohol.
Ann Barnes, Kent Police and Crime Commissioner said: “I’m absolutely delighted that Gravesham’s bid was successful resulting in a real focus to tackle crime and alcohol.
"To have the Home Office as a critical friend to share best practice with is a real bonus for local communities.
"It will be interesting to review what progress has been made in a year’s time, once the scheme is finished.”
- Click here for more Gravesend news
- Click here for more news from across the county