Suffolk Constabulary is joining forces nationwide in a week-long campaign to highlight the realities faced by those on the front-line who deal with drunkenness and alcohol-related incidents.
Over five days the In Focus: Alcohol Harm initiative will highlight the work of neighbourhood policing teams, licensing teams and Night Time Economy teams who work to reduce the instances and effects of alcohol-related incidents.
The In Focus week is part of a series focussing on issues most important to policing – ledby the Association of Chief Police Officers.
As part of Alcohol Harm week, Suffolk Police will be demonstrating the work that officers carry out to reduce drunkenness and alcohol related incidents and create a safer environment for people going out to bars and clubs, as well as demonstrating the impact that disorderly behaviour has on policing resources.
The constabulary will be joining other forces across the country in tweeting their activities to tackle alcohol harm, which will culminate in a ‘tweetathon’ on Saturday, September 21, providing regular updates throughout the course of the night from a team out patrolling Ipswich town centre.
Officers from the constabulary’s Night Time Economy (NTE) team started the week off by carrying out proactive checks on door supervisors across the county over the weekend.
This was done in conjunction with officers from the Security Industry Authority (SIA), which regulates the private security industry.
Eleven premises were visited across three towns – Felixstowe, Ipswich and Stowmarket – and in total 32 front line SIA door supervisors were checked and all of them were found to be in licence and valid.
Sgt Steve Tully of the NTE team said: “This was a very productive joint operation with members of the SIA to ensure that licensed premises are employing valid door supervisors, who have an important role to play in ensuring that people are behaving responsibly when out drinking.
“Best practice advice was given out to bar managers and Designated Premises Supervisors in how to manage and routinely check their SIA accredited staff. The feedback we received from both door supervisors and managers was very positive.
“The door supervisors especially liked the checks as they recognised it kept unlicensed people out of the industry thereby preventing them from taking away potential business, which gave value to their licenses which they have had to pay to obtain.”
Other activities planned for the week by officers in Suffolk include engagement with new licensees and delivery of support packs, alcohol confiscations and test purchase operations.
The police will also be tweeting safety messages throughout the week seeking to both warn and educate people on the dangers of drinking to excess using #infocus.
Tim Newcomb, Assistant Chief Constable of Suffolk Constabulary, said: “It is hoped this week will demonstrate the considerable work that police officers do in dealing with those who drink to excess and the drain that it puts on police resources.
“This does not just relate to drink-fuelled anti-social behaviour in the night time economy, but more strikingly the fact that nationally around 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.
“Alcohol harm is a wider social issue that we all have to play our part in solving. As well as the obvious health risks involved, it has an impact on society as a whole and can lead to the breakdown of family units. We will continue to work with our partners to combat these issues.
“One of the key aims of this week is to make people aware that they need to take responsibility for themselves and their actions and to be aware of the damage that drunken behaviour causes in our communities. The police are not here to pick drunken people up and take them home or mediate drunken arguments. We would prefer our officers to be in their communities fighting crime rather than being pulled off their beats into town centres every weekend.
“We will also take the opportunity this week to promote the great work being done by our Licensing and Night Time Economy teams who work with and offer support to licensees, helping them to ensure that they are aware of their responsibilities and making their premises a safe place for people to socialise in.”
Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: “Speaking to people across the county it has been quite shocking to realise just how much crime and anti-social behaviour is alcohol fuelled.
“I was staggered to hear from a local police officer that on a busy night in Ipswich 95 per cent of incidents that the constabulary is involved in are alcohol related.
“This is a terrible reflection on our county and has a massive impact on the constabulary’s resources both in man-power and financial terms. This also has an adverse effect on the economy as it can stop people from coming into our towns to enjoy an evening at the cinema, restaurant or the theatre.
“There is a lot of good work being carried out across the county to combat the problem of alcohol; by co-ordinating all this good work and working together I am sure we can make a real impact on the problem.
“Many partners are already working on initiatives to raise awareness of the effects of drugs and alcohol misuse and develop local solutions, including the Licensee Support Pack, Pub Watch and Best Bar None which recognises well managed premises.
“Recognising the degree of the problem that alcohol causes, I have awarded £200,000 to the county’s Drug and Alcohol Team to fund their excellent work.
“They estimate that over 22,500 crimes are prevented as a result of drugs and alcohol users being engaged with treatment services in Suffolk which saves an estimated £20m in costs to other agencies and society, and I consider this excellent value for money.”