Avon and Somerset Police are taking part in a week-long campaign highlighting the realities faced by those dealing with drunkenness and alcohol-related incidents.
The “In Focus: Alcohol Harm initiative” started on Monday 16th September and will run for the rest of the week. During the five days of action, officers from across the force will be out and about on the streets undertaking a variety of activities to tackle alcohol-related crime, anti-social behaviour (ASB) and other health issues.
Working with partners including local authorities, the ambulance service, street pastors and local universities, neighbourhood policing teams, special constables and police cadets are being deployed in drinking hotspots, providing increased high-visibility patrols, medical triage facilities to deal with the drunk and disorderly and launching initiatives with local licensees to tackle ASB including the “Think Twice” campaign in Taunton.
They have also been addressing new students at freshers’ weeks on staying safe and providing awareness training on vulnerability with security and bar staff. Age ID checks and drug swabbing operations have also been undertaken and licensing teams are working with partners to conduct test purchasing operations for shops, bars and taxis and visiting problem venues.
Drink-fuelled anti-social behaviour in local pubs, clubs and on streets is only one aspect of the problem. Nationally figures show that nearly 50 per cent of all violent crime is alcohol related.
Offenders are thought to be under the influence of alcohol in nearly half of all incidents of domestic abuse and alcohol plays a part in 25 to 33 per cent of known child abuse cases. Excessive drinking clearly increases your likelihood of committing a crime or becoming a victim.
Assistant Chief Constable Anthony Bangham said: “Drinking excessively often makes people aggressive and reckless – perhaps causing them to become involved in violence. It certainly can make them behave in way that impacts negatively on them, the people around them and the wider community. It can also make people vulnerable and more at risk of becoming a victim of crime or being injured.
“We are regularly required to deal with alcohol-related crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour. Policing our city and town centres every weekend to deal with these issues means that our resources are diverted away from other activities and community priorities.”
Excessive drinking and alcohol addiction has a wider reaching impact. A national survey in 2009 of most of the UK’s Emergency Departments found that 70% of night time attendances and 40% of daytime attendances were caused by alcohol; it is the biggest single cause of accidents.
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “The damage of misusing alcohol not only affects the individual who is misusing but their family, friends and in some cases the wider community also.
“To combat these effects I am working, in partnership with the Drug and Alcohol Teams, to commission a single drug and alcohol arrest referral service across Avon and Somerset from April 2014.
“Working together we can not only reduce the cost on policing resources of alcohol fuelled crime; we can vastly improve the health and wellbeing of many individuals suffering from alcohol addiction.”
ACC Bangham added: “We will always prioritise incidents where we need to keep people safe and prevent a crime from happening, but I would urge those people who are tempted to drink to excess to think about taking greater personal responsibility. Don’t be a drain on police and the other emergency services because you’ve had too much to drink.”
Local teams have been tweeting their day-to-day activities, tackling alcohol harm in the communities they serve. You can also follow the force account @ASPolice on Twitter and by using #InFocus and #AlcoholHarm.
If you need help and advice regarding alcohol or drug addiction there are a number of independent agencies able to help. Alcohol advisory centres are based in all major cities. The centres provide advice, information and counselling for people with alcohol-related problems or people affected by others’ drinking.
You can also contact Alcoholics Anonymous on 0845 769 7555 or email them at [email protected]