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Thursday 26 September 2013

Open letter to the people of Cheshire from Cheshire's Police and Crime Commissioner



Research showed that in the North West more than £947 million was spent in 2010/11 handling an estimated 47,000 alcohol related crimes, 34,183 alcohol related violent crimes and 863 alcohol related sexual offences.

Of the incidents our Officers attended over the last 70 days, they recorded that; 40% of antisocial behaviour, 11% of crime and 20% of reports for someone′s safety had alcohol as a factor. Local Alcohol Profiles for England 2011/12 show that in Cheshire over 5,500 crimes could be attributed to alcohol (based on the calculation from the Government Strategy Unit).

As the elected Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire it is incumbent on me to draw to your attention how much of your policing resources are being ‘Totally Wasted′ by officers having to respond to incidents where alcohol is a cause. This weekend alone in one of our towns we had 9 arrests, issued 18 notices directing people to leave the area to prevent disorder and recorded 34 other incidents that were alcohol related, all requiring a police response.

There have been many changes to licensing laws to try to address the issues and change society′s attitude to alcohol. Changes to the licensing laws in 2005 enabled many towns to relax opening times, allowing bars to continue serving late into the early hours of the morning. This was intended to promote a continental culture and prevent the traditional last orders flashpoints, but in areas has bred competition, causing them to open later and later. It is not uncommon for them to still be trading after 5am.

The culture and impact, especially amongst drinkers of ‘preloading′, drinking copious amounts of cheap alcohol at home before their night out, has increased and is now the norm. Bars compete to increasingly have cheaper and cheaper drinks promotions - inviting people to come out earlier, stay out longer and consume more alcohol. ‘Fresher′s Week′ is a focus for new custom. The result is more drunkenness, disorder and violence in our towns. The demand is seen across public services not only by the police but also in our hospitals, ambulance service, fire service and local authorities, all of whom are left to deal with the consequences of alcohol abuse.

How responsible is it to encourage people to pay a £5 entry fee give 5 drinks for 5 pence or 9 drinks for £9.95 or ‘Dice Nights′ where you roll a dice, throw an odd number and get the round for free?

You may have seen the coverage this week in the press and on our Twitter account to coincide with ‘Fresher Week′ to help people keep safe. The pictures show people totally wasted in our towns this weekend - vulnerable to causing and being victims of crime.

This is sadly a picture replicated across the country. The TOTALLY WASTED campaign is not to highlight specific areas, but to put a spotlight on the impact of alcohol and to change the attitude we have, that this type of behaviour is acceptable and stop it being seen as ‘a good night out′.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, John Dwyer

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