Winning the teen boozing battle

News story
News story

WIGAN’S pioneering cross-authority alcohol scheme is winning the battle against underage drinking concerns, a new report has said.

Public health bosses and an independent watchdog have praised the borough’s Community Alcohol Partnership (Cap) as the number of residents complaining about troublesome teens has seen a major drop.

The report, produced by Wigan’s director for public health Dr Kate Ardern, has urged borough authorities to keep up their efforts for the benefit of residents.

A combined initiative from the council, police, schools, alcohol services and retailers, Cap is said to have offered “an alternative and innovative approach to dealing with underage drinking problems and youth and alcohol related anti-social behaviour.”

Having been evaluated by the independent body Alcohol Concern since its launch in 2013, the initiative has seen the share of residents expressing concerns about teens in the streets under the influence of alcohol as having dropped from 44 per cent to 33 per cent.

Two-thirds of retailers polled in the borough felt that Cap had helped reduce attempts to buy alcohol by under 18s.

Dr Ardern added: “59 per cent of residents said that under 18s drinking in public places was not a big problem, compared with 45 per cent before the introduction of Cap.

“More than half of the retailers in the area felt that the relationship with the police and trading standards had improved since the introduction of the partnership.”

The report, which will be presented to the council’s health and social care scrutiny committee next week, also maps out what action is being taken to tackle the borough’s drug problems with similar community schemes.

Dr Ardern states: “Our Cap scheme was the first in Greater Manchester, it is different in that it recognises that retailers should be part of the solution to such issues and engages with them in order to achieve improvements.

“Cap’s are intended to complement the existing work of enforcement agencies and retailers, without increasing resources in the long term.”