13 December 2016

‘Sensible on Strength’ signs up Southern Co-Op stores

The Southern Co-operative has signed up all five of its stores in Brighton and Hove to the ‘Sensible on Strength’ scheme. The initiative encourages local shop owners to voluntarily agree not to sell beer, lager or cider above 6% alcohol by volume.

The retailer is the first convenience store chain to join the scheme, which has been running for three years and has more than 150 members.

Brighton & Hove City Council, Sussex Police and Equinox work together to promote the initiative. In the first two years street drinking numbers fell by 31%. It has resulted in more street drinkers being able to successfully engage with treatment for their alcohol addiction.

Councillor Jackie O’Quinn, chair of the city’s licensing committee said: This is a fantastic example of partnership working that is having a positive effect on street drinkers in the city.

“High-strength drinks are different from other beers and ciders and cause great harm to vulnerable people.

“It’s been really encouraging to see local businesses signing up to ‘Sensible on Strength’ as experience shows that where this kind of alcohol has been removed from sale it not only helps street drinkers, but has a wider effect on reducing crime, disorder and antisocial behaviour.”

Silena Dominy, Director of Corporate Affairs at the Southern Co-operative, said “We are pleased to confirm that all five of our stores in Brighton and Hove, including Bramber House at Sussex University, have joined the ‘Sensible on Strength’ scheme, and that all low-cost, high-strength alcohol will have been taken off the shelves.

“The Southern Co-operative’s decision to join the campaign was based on our shared ethos for promoting and supporting responsible retailing, and addresses our continued commitment to the city’s licensing objectives; prevention of crime and disorder, prevention of public nuisance, public safety, and protection of children from harm.

“We were delighted to hear that significant and positive changes have already been achieved by the campaign and its existing members, which is helping to reduce antisocial behaviour and improve the health of all those affected by alcohol addiction.

“We are proud to be the first convenience store chain to take part in the scheme and hope that our involvement will encourage others to also pledge their support.”

Sergeant Simon Morgan of the police licensing team said: “We have supported this initiative from the outset and have seen the reduction in disorder and antisocial behaviour in areas where the local off-licences have adopted ‘Sensible On Strength’.  These independent businesses are leading the way and this decision from Southern Co-op is great news for Brighton and Hove.”

Jesse Wilde, Senior Business and Partnership Manager for Equinox, said: “Probably the most visible impact of higher strength alcohol sales is the presence of street drinkers.  The ‘Sensible on Strength’ (SOS) scheme targets this group of people in particular.

“The vast majority of street drinkers now drink 6% abv and below as opposed to the 9% which was the norm before SOS. This means street drinkers are more able to engage with support”.

Equinox contributed to research carried out last year by Alcohol Concern.  This has now been published as National Best Practice by Police and Crime Commissioners.

If you would like more information on ‘Sensible on Strength’ or wish to the join the scheme contact Donna Lynsdale on 01273 292494 or email donna.lynsdale@brighton-hove.gcsx.gov.uk .