Calls for unity on street drinking

The head of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association has urged the industry to collaborate on finding ways to combat street drinking in towns and cities.

Miles Beale claims retailers and sup- pliers have a vital role to play in tackling the problem and their combined efforts could form a key component of the Responsibility Deal developed with the government.

Talking to OLN, he praised the trade’s approach to schemes such as the Community Alcohol Partnerships, which highlighted to politicians the effectiveness of industry-led, voluntary initiatives – but argued more could be achieved.

He said: “The industry already plays a lead role, having conceived and introduced locally targeted initiatives such as CAPs and Best Bar None, which were specifically singled out by the government for their impressive results. Again, the government has recognised the benefits of evidence-based results, generated by our industry schemes.

“CAPs are a proven way of targeting under-age drinking and associated anti-social behaviour in locally defined geographical areas and there are now more than 50 in the UK.”

He added: “Where we can do better as an industry is actively identifying problem areas that would benefit from targeted industry action. For example, one area which could benefit from the collective action of the industry is a greater focus on street drinking. While this is a complex problem, as an industry we can and should be looking at innovative solutions to address this problem, again by working with government and others.”

He added: “Government has taken notice of the voluntary approach taken in Ipswich regarding a small group of problem street drinkers – but also of the scheme’s limitations.”

Beale also called on the industry to maintain its commitment to the Responsibility Deal following the Department of Health’s continued endorsement, despite a number of high-profile healthcare bodies withdrawing their support after the government’s U-turn on the introduction of minimum pricing.

“The industry has always been - and continues to be – a committed and reliable partner of the Responsibility Deal. It is encouraging to see the government acknowledge that partnership, not regulation, is the answer. Only by engaging with industry can we achieve lasting change.

“So, while there may be challenges ahead, it is in the interests of all partners to ensure that the Responsibility Deal continues so that we can foster the culture of responsible drinking that we all want to see.”

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