Press release

Giving local communities the tools to tackle binge and underage drinking

A new £1 million fund to tackle binge and underage drinking was announced today by the government's Champion for Active Safer Communities, Baroness Newlove.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
Baroness Newlove

Baroness Newlove with community activists at the launch of her new report

The announcement of the new fund comes on the day Baroness Newlove published her latest report Building safe, active communities: strong foundations by local people, which is a collection of inspiring, yet practical lessons from those who are changing their neighbourhoods for the better, providing good advice, and highlighting some of the barriers that have stifled their growth.

In her interim report to government published in July last year, Baroness Newlove identified tackling problem drinking as her most urgent priority and she will continue to sharply focus on this in the months ahead. This new fund will give ten successful communities - based on models of grass roots projects already delivering for their neighbourhoods - the resources to really get to grips with problem drinking and deal with it, head on.

Royal British Legion Youth Band

The Royal British Legion Youth Band performing at the launch of the new report.

Royal British Legion Youth Band

Eric Pickles and Baroness Newlove watch the Royal British Legion Youth Band.

One outstanding success is Newquay Safe Partnership, which brings together local councils, police, health workers, the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board, businesses, tourist chiefs, town planners, and - most importantly - local residents to share information and deliver action. In the past two years the partnership has taken steps to curb the use of fake IDs, has prosecuted proxy buyers and targeted campaigns aimed at young people urging them to be responsible and for parents not to supply alcohol to children. Since 2009, the Cornish resort has seen an average fall of almost 30 percentage points in recorded anti-social and ‘rowdy’ behaviour.

Baroness Newlove said:

I am sick of the harm caused by those young people who put themselves and others at risk from illegal drinking. The crime and anti-social behaviour that comes in its wake is a terrible blight on this country. It destroys the quality of life of innocent people and in the process sucks up huge amounts of public funding to repair the damage done to people and places.

We need a new drinking culture in this country. I want to see responsible drinking, so we can rid our streets of drunken violence and intimidation. We need direct, effective action on the ground to make a difference, and make ‘sociable drinking’ the acceptable norm. This will not be achieved overnight, I realise. But we need to take action now and I am very pleased that the government will shortly publish a long term strategy on alcohol.

There are many people in communities across the country - backed by local authorities, the police, health workers and the retail trade - who have found innovative ways to combat this problem and this fund will help the police, health workers, businesses and, crucially, local people to come together and tackle problem drinking head on and inspire other communities to act.

I am the Chair of Community Alcohol Partnerships and our board is resolute we will share our years of expertise for activists to draw on, based on enforcement, education and public perception. A downloadable guide on their website will get any community started if they only have the will.

Baroness Newlove has travelled extensively across the country throughout the past two years meeting local people in their communities to learn from their experience and gather together examples of their inspiring work to inform her latest report. Her new report will act as a roadmap to others, offering sources of help, advice, encouragement and practical lessons.

Baroness Newlove said:

I’ve always believed that ‘out there’ are quiet, unassuming, unsung heroes who improve the quality of life for themselves, their friends and neighbours in many different ways. Our neighbourhoods are bursting with energy, passion and ideas for making the streets we live in safer, happier places. This report is based on real people, rolling up their sleeves and getting on with it. The reaction of ordinary law abiding people to the summer riots showed this wonderful spirit in the most dramatic way possible.

We all need to be able to ‘pinch’ a good idea from one place and plant it somewhere else with the minimum of fuss. But realize that it is just not ‘1 size fits all’. Anyone reading this report will be inspired and hopefully see what they can do when they leave their armchairs and get active in their own community.

The new report also examines progress on the 12 challenges to action Baroness Newlove put to government last year. It outlines how departments are responding to these challenges and her thoughts on progress and what more she feels can be done.

Baroness Newlove continued:

Last year I challenged the government and public agencies to help, not hinder grassroots activists and I am pleased to note the progress made on a number of fronts, within Whitehall and beyond, some of which I have seen or heard about at first hand.

However, I am convinced more can be done. The cash seized from drug dealers and criminals for example  that goes to communities for them to work on making their neighbourhoods safer is welcome - but it is not enough and I call on the government to go further and faster.

Furthermore I intend to write to all candidates for the role of Police and Crime Commissioner and will ask them to commit in their manifestos to making sure community groups can use or have a say on at least 1 per cent of their budget.

Notes to editors

For more information on Building safe, active communities: strong foundations by local people.

Baroness Newlove is a community campaigner based in the North West and was made a peer in July 2010. Since the death of her husband Garry in 2007, she has worked to make communities safer. In October 2010 she was appointed the government Champion for Active Safer Communities and spent 6 months at the Home Office where she wrote her first report Our vision for safe and active communities. In April 2011, she moved to the Department for Communities and Local Government to continue her work. She is also co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group for Victims and Witnesses and is chairman of the Board of Community Alcohol Partnerships.

This new fund will be on a bid based application process and applications will be assessed on a set of defined criteria. Bids will be supported that broadly demonstrate the following criteria:

  • clear partnership working (lead by the local authority), underpinned by a governance board which would meet regularly to manage the fund
  • the board would include representation from the Local Authority, Police Authority, Health and Education Services, the local community, local retailers and interested private sector alcohol industry representatives
  • clearly identified the issues/problems arising in their area
  • a clear strategy prepared to address those issues
  • well-developed proposals on what the money would be spent on

Details of the fund and the application process will be published shortly.

Community Alcohol Partnerships aim to tackle public underage drinking through co-operation between alcohol retailers and local stakeholders, such as Trading Standards, police, local authority licensing teams, schools and health networks. Community Alcohol Partnerships address both the demand and supply side of underage drinking through enforcement, education and public perception. There are now over 35 Community Alochol Partnerships in operation across the UK. You can download a toolkit to get started.

For more information on Newquay Safe and the partnership’s work please see the website of Cornwall Council.

More photographs of the launch event are available from the DCLG Flickr channel

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Published 14 February 2012