DEVON and Cornwall’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Hogg will meet with major retailers in Exeter tomorrow to discuss the availability of cheap alcohol and the impact it has on crime.
Mr Hogg has made tackling the scourge of alcohol-related offences a priority and held talks with experts and licencees in September.
He will sit down with major supermarkets and retailers in Exeter tomorrow saying he hopes to develop “a considered, educated and joined up approach” to the issue of alcohol-related crime.
“There is no ‘quick fix’ but I want this meeting to signal the start of long term engagement with the supermarkets and retailers,” he said.
“I am pleased that many have accepted this invitation to meet with me because I want to give them the opportunity to talk about the work they already do in this regard.
“I will certainly not be ‘lecturing’ them, but I will be looking for them to fully understand the issues here, and play their part in developing a considered, educated and joined up approach. I am also continuing dialogue with those that can’t attend this initial meeting.”
Mr Hogg has commissioned a short film to show at the start of the meeting, which contains interviews with Sarah Whitcher, from Plymouth, who has battled alcohol problems since being a teenager.
Sarah first met Mr Hogg at a public surgery event where she explained how the availability of cheap alcohol had led her into a life of addiction and then crime.
Now recovering, she wants to help Mr Hogg tackle these issues and has a clear message.
She said: “When I was 18 I was getting into trouble and going out drinking.
“It’s a vicious circle and you get into that and it’s hard to get out of. A lot of it can lead to death. Drinking can lead to death. It’s a consequence of how much you have to drink with obviously the cheap alcohol at the present time in supermarkets."
The impact of ‘pre-loading’ is also highlighted in the film by Dr Adrian Barton from Plymouth University.
Dr Barton has carried out research in the city, mainly with students, and has concluded that drinking cheap alcohol at home before going on to pubs and clubs much later has created a ‘cultural shift’ in drinking patterns which has impacted on crime and disorder on our streets.
“We need to recognise that, if we’re serious about the night-time economy, you have to recognise where alcohol is being consumed, and it would appear for the 17-25 year olds that the bulk of the alcohol is being consumed at home,” Dr Barton said.
More details of Mr Hogg’s alcohol priorities and strategy will be published in his updated Police and Crime Plan later this month.