Sensible on Strength

Background

The purpose of the campaign is to find ways of limiting the availability of super-strength drinks in the Brighton & Hove area and to encourage retailers who sell alcohol ‘off the premises’ to operate good practice measures that will promote the four licensing objectives. The four licensing objectives are paramount under the Licensing Act 2003 and are; the prevention of crime & disorder, prevention of public nuisance, public safety and protection of children from harm. Through achieving this change, the ultimate aim is to reduce alcohol related harm and anti-social behaviour, and to move vulnerable drinkers onto weaker alcohol as our experience is that if this can be achieved, the level of deterioration in health is dramatically slowed and there is more likelihood that they will take the step to abstinence and long-term sobriety.

Community

Our aim is to engage with the community and hopefully reduce anti-social behaviour as well as improving people’s health and working with businesses to promote and support responsible retailing. We want to encourage licensed businesses to voluntarily stop selling super-strength beer, lager and cider above 6% (this does not include those premium products such as specialist ales and ciders that are at the higher end of the market) and implement other good practice measures including a refusals system, CCTV, documented training, etc. Additionally a full inspection will be carried out on the premises to check compliance with their licensing conditions and any additional measures. We will then present a window sticker and certificate to the business if they pass the inspection.

Register of accredited Sensible on Strength premises (PDF 32KB)

Alcohol and Health

According to data from the Office of National Statistics, the number of alcohol related deaths increased by nearly a fifth between 1999 and 2004. Deaths in England and Wales rose from 5,525 in 2000 to 6,544 in 2004. Alcohol Concern believes that these figures are an underestimate of the true figure. They argue that other research and statistics covering illnesses and health problems related to excessive alcohol consumption including some types of cancers, strokes, heart disease and dementia as well as accidents, suicides and assaults, provides a more accurate figure of over 30,000 deaths a year.

The Government's Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy states that there are up to 22,000 premature deaths per annum and over 30,000 hospital admissions linked to alcohol dependence. It is estimated that 70% of admissions to Accident and Emergency departments at the weekend are linked to alcohol-related incidents.

Brighton & Hove scores poorly on virtually all alcohol impact indices and as such the Alcohol Programme Board has been implemented to address the adverse consequences of alcohol consumption in Brighton & Hove – members of the board consist of health departments, council, police and other organisations. There are four ‘domains’ of work within the programme board, one of which is the availability of alcohol and as such this project falls within that area but aims to have an overall positive effect on all domains.

As an example, a single 500ml can of 9% super-strength lager contains four and a half units of alcohol, which exceeds the Government’s daily recommended safe alcohol limit of between two to three units for women and three to four units for men. This clearly breaches the drinks industry’s corporate social responsibility guidelines.

Anti-Social Drinking

Drinking in the streets can intimidate members of the public, cause disorder and nuisance, and generally degrade a public space.

The Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit launched the Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy for England in 2004. It stated that alcohol misuse is linked to disorder and contributes to driving people’s fear of crime; 61% of the population think that alcohol-related violence on the streets is increasing, while 43% of women and 38% of men see drinking on the street as a problem. Many people are therefore less, rather than more, likely to want to spend more time in city centres perceived as violent and dominated by alcohol.

Campaign Message

The campaign has a really very simple message to educate and encourage businesses to operate a responsible retailing scheme and backed up by two different ways in which the problem of super-strength drinks could be alleviated. The simple message is that the super-strength drinks are a breed apart from other lagers and ciders and responsible for killing many homeless and vulnerable people. These drinks are also responsible for anti-social behaviour and are a scourge on many local communities. Experience shows, where businesses have removed super strength alcohol they have seen a reduction in crime & disorder such as thefts, intimidation and violence to staff.

The campaign message is not anti alcohol and recognises the long established beer and cider drinking culture in the UK and our own vibrant city atmosphere. It emphasises that super-strength drinks are causing terrible damage to many people and that if people with drink problems move off the super-strength drinks then their health and life chances will improve. We also maintain that educating, supporting and encouraging businesses is a step in the right direction of improving the negative alcohol trends in Brighton & Hove.

For more information, please contact the Licensing Team on 01273 294429 or email ehl.safety@brighton-hove.gov.uk.