3rd April, 2014 by Lauren Eads
More “local partnerships” are needed to help tackle “alcohol harms” within UK communities and cut its £21 billion cost, according to the Home Office Minister for Crime Prevention and MP Norman Baker.
Speaking at a conference in London on 3 April, the minister said: “There is clearly plenty of work that needs to be done. Alcohol harm costs society around £21 billion a year and the coalition government is determined to reduce that unacceptable bill to taxpayers.
“Local Alcohol Action Areas are a good example of how government can work with a range of partners, including the drinks industry, to tackle alcohol abuse.
“Industry has a key role to play and we expect them to play it.”
The total cost of alcohol to society is currently estimated at £21 billion per year broken down into crime £11bn, the NHS £3.5bn and the cost of productivity £7bn.
Twenty areas across England and Wales have been established as local alcohol action areas in which local agencies, including licensing authorities, health bodies and the police will come together with businesses and other organisations to address problems being caused by alcohol in their area.
The conference was organised by Portman Group, which promotes social responsibility within the drinks industry and regulates the marketing of all UK drinks companies, and brought together industry members, local authorities, police and health services to share best practice.
Henry Ashworth, chief executive of the Portman Group and co-chair of the Government’s Responsibility Deal Alcohol Network, said: “We know that local areas have different challenges when it comes to alcohol harms.
“Through closer collaboration with a range of local partners, including the drinks industry, those areas can not only improve public health but also make their high streets and town centres safer, more enjoyable places to visit and increase their economic potential.”
For more information on the Portman Group and its guidelines for best practice visit portmangroup.org.uk.