Action plan aims to curb rise in heavy drinking

By Ian Dipple Monday 04 February 2013 Updated: 05/02 10:44

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CREATING more places residents can socialise without alcohol is one of the options being considered to encourage people across the city to drink sensibly.

Worcestershire Health and Well-being Board has launched the county's first ever alcohol action plan to tackle the rising trend of excess drinking.

In Worcester more than 17,600 people are drinking at increasingly high levels, consuming eight or more units of alcohol a day or 50 or more a week - equivalent to over 20 pints of standard strength lager or standard glasses of red wine a week. The figure rises to over 105,000 across Worcestershire.

As well as putting individuals at greater risk of developing liver disease, cancers and mental health problems, excess drinking also has social problems increasing crime, anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse.

In Worcester in 2011/12 there were record rates of sexual offences where alcohol played a factor and alcohol related violent crime is also worse than the national average.

The number of alcohol-related hospital admissions for under-18s in Worcester is also significantly worse than the national average.

Dr Frances Howie, assistant director of public health for Worcestershire, said: "At the moment the vast majority of people are drinking at sensible levels but the fact is it's changing and changing very quickly so we must do all we can to promote a healthy environment for sensible drinking."

Over the next three years the alcohol plan will aim to raise awareness and the availability about the dangers of drinking to excess, using reformed problematic drinkers to champion safe drinking and improve the training of health care and social workers to spot people developing a problem with alcohol earlier and to intervene.

The plan also aims to support councils to make it easier for them to refuse, take back or impose conditions on landlords' licences and make it easier for people to raise concerns about the way pubs, clubs and off-licences are being run.

Treatment services would also be reviewed to ensure all organisations involved are working together so people in need of help are not overlooked.

"All of this is about shaping a new approach to safe drinking founded on empowered responsibility, a healthy environment where sensible drinking is the norm and improved services for those who need them," Dr Howie added.

A detailed action plan will now be drawn up detailing how each of the plan's aims will be implemented in Worcester.

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