LEADING retailers were presented with stark facts on the impact of alcohol-fuelled crime during round-table talks with Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Hogg earlier today.
Mr Hogg has made reducing alcohol-related crime and misuse one of his top targets and met representatives from Tesco, the Co-op, Aldi, Costcutter, McColl’s, Premier Stores and the Association of Convenience Stores in Exeter.
A presentation by the commissioner, his team and Deputy Chief Constable Bill Skelly on the impact of alcohol highlighted the fact that Devon and Cornwall has the seventh highest rate of violent crime in the country.
“This is not a position we want to be in, so we must meet this difficult challenge head on.” said Mr Hogg.
“Alcohol clearly plays a significant part in these figures, and a major contributory factor is ‘pre-loading’ when people spend hours drinking cheaper alcohol at home before going out to pubs and clubs.
“The drinker who commits a crime due to their inability to control their alcohol intake is the problem here.
“It is our job to find ways to help them change their behaviour, so freeing the rest of society from the harm or crime they may create.”
Retailers discussed the work they already do with local communities, including monitoring sales, educating customers and staff training. Those who weren’t able to attend provided information about initiatives they already undertake.
Today’s talks identified a number of areas to explore further including boosting cooperation between the police and retailers to solve local problems.
All have agreed to meet with Mr Hogg and his team again to discuss activities with their individual companies.
The commissioner is also planning meetings with drinks producers and representatives from the pub and club trade in the next weeks, following a similar summit last year.
Mr Hogg said he was pleased with the number of retailers who attended the initial meeting, and the level of engagement.
“We have such a diverse urban, rural and coastal region with a massive population increase in the tourist season.” He said. “It’s very much a case of finding different solutions for different places.”
He added: “Nobody underestimates the scale of this issue. Those that are serious about improving the position need to be committed to the long haul.”