An initiative to reduce drunkenness in Liverpool is being extended to Merseyside and Cheshire.
‘Drink Less Enjoy More’ is primarily aimed at 18 – 30 year olds and warns that they risk having their night out cut short as bar staff may refuse to serve them.
The initiative has been run in Liverpool since 2015, but now Public Health teams across Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley, Halton, Warrington, St Helens, Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East are rolling it out as well.
The aim is to encourage young people to cut back on how much they drink at home before going out – so-called ‘pre-loading’ - as well as how much they consume when visiting bars, pubs and clubs.
Drunkenness can have immediate health consequences such as alcohol poisoning, and can contribute to sexual violence, accidents and violent crimes. It places a large burden on health, police and other public services.
The ongoing Drink Less Enjoy More communication programme uses radio, digital and outdoor advertising near shops, pubs and bars, with posters and other literature displayed in bars.
The initiative aims to raise awareness of the 2003 Licensing Act, which states it is illegal to:
· Buy alcohol for someone who is clearly drunk
· For bar staff to serve someone who is clearly drunk
Both offences are punishable with a fine of up to £1,000 and premises found to be serving people who are clearly drunk are also at risk of being stripped of their licence – but local research shows only half of people are aware of the law.
Fiona Johnstone, Interim Director for Strategy and Partnerships in Wirral and Alcohol Lead for Merseyside and Cheshire, said: “We have been encouraged by the success of Drink Less Enjoy More in Liverpool which is why we are now expanding it wider across Merseyside and Cheshire.
“We will be working in partnership with bars to provide training to raise awareness of the law and help bar staff to confidently refuse to serve people, ensuring people stay safe and have a good night out.”
“Research conducted in Liverpool City Centre shows a significant drop in the number of bars people serving drunks, down to 36% in 2016 from 84% in 2014 before the initiative started.
Councillor Paul Brant, Cabinet member for adult social care and health, said: “This is about reducing the strain on public services such as the police, ambulance staff and hospitals at a time when they are already under massive pressure.
“We know that many people travel into the city from surrounding areas so it makes sense to spread the campaign more widely.”
Communication of the Drink Less Enjoy More programme features a range of advertising including posters with text conversations between friends to illustrate how their night out could be ruined if they ignore the law, including: “Dean, don’t get too smashed mate! We won’t get served anywhere later” and “Looks like an early taxi home for us lads. They won’t serve us because Ryan’s bladdered…Gutted L.”
Police and licensing teams will be actively working with bars to promote compliance with the laws in order to reduce drunkenness across Merseyside and Cheshire
Superintendent Mark Wiggins from Merseyside Police said: DLEM isn't aimed at those who drink responsibly - it's there to help identify the minority of people who have had too much alcohol and could end up being a danger either to themselves or others. People need to ask themselves whether they want their night to end early because they’ve been refused entry to a bar due to them having consumed too much alcohol too early. Drink sensibly and enjoy your night out with friends otherwise you may ruin their night out too if they have to take you home early.
"Merseyside Police is committed to reducing violent crime and making the streets safe and the continuation of this initiative with our partners should help to make Liverpool and our surrounding towns even safer places for locals and visitors alike to enjoy a night out."