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Teamwork Triumphs in Tackling Alcohol Abuse

Incidents of binge drinking and anti-social behaviour in Lincoln have been drastically reduced, thanks to a two-year initiative backed by £90,000 of public money.

Date: 23rd Sep '14
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The Lincoln Evening Safety Project was supported by cash from the Department of Communities and Local Government’s Alcohol Fund. It was delivered by the Lincoln Business Improvement Group (Lincoln BIG) and its partners, with the City of Lincoln Council being the accountable body.

Progress has been made since 2010, when research by Liverpool’s John Moores University put Lincoln in the top 10 per cent of worst performing districts in England and Wales - in terms of drink-related hospital admissions for the under-18s and alcohol-related recorded crimes. 

Evening Safety Projects aimed to support – a 10 per cent reduction in binge drinking (particularly among young people) and a 10 per cent cut in alcohol-related anti-social behaviour, as well as the development of a multi-agency approach to get the wider community involved in tackling issues.

All these targets were surpassed!

 

The “partnership” also exceeded the challenges of  delivering  1,200 extra hours of Evening Safety Warden activity; recruiting and training five new street pastors and providing practical support to at least 160 young people who had drunk too much.

Lincoln BIG Evening Economy Manager Marion Cooney said: “We took a multi-agency approach by bringing together the Evening Safety Wardens, Neighbourhood Policing Team, Street Pastors and representatives from businesses and the local community.

“Everyone is acutely aware of the importance of ensuring that Lincoln remains a safe and welcoming place for residents and visitors looking for an enjoyable night out.

“It was recognised that anti-social behaviour is a serious issue amongst young people, particularly when clubs and pubs host  promotional evenings, so we aimed to provide a highly-visible presence in the city centre on weekday nights.”

 

Action was taken to engage young people and residents in practical ways to tackle problem drinking. Work was done to map the night-time economy, in an effort to spot patterns of alcohol-related disorder.

The team hoped its visibility would act as a deterrent for drink-related problem behaviour, but practical  help was also offered to those who had drunk too much. The project team also acted to boost relationships between licensees, pubs and clubs and to educate people about the misuse of alcohol.

“There were many facets to this project, and we reached out to many different sections of the wider community, as well as providing a visible presence in the city centre,” said Miss Cooney.

“With funding from the project, we were able to deploy the Evening Safety Wardens on a Thursday evening  –  between the hours of 10pm and 4am – when many city bars run promotions. Of course, many off-licences are also open. The wardens provided an ambassadorial role, as well as a visible deterrent,” said Miss Cooney.

 

Figures at the start and end of the two-year project revealed:

  • Alcohol-specific hospital admissions for the under-18s were originally 87.2 per cent per 100,000 head of population – the project contributed towards a 30 per cent reduction
  • Alcohol-related crimes originally stood at 10.2 per cent for every 1,000 head of population – the project contributed towards 20.5 per cent fall
  • Alcohol-related anti social behaviour. From April 2011 to March 2012 there were 870 incidents.

At the end of the project,  a 14.39 per cent reduction in such incidents in Lincoln was recorded.

 

Reaching out to members of the community formed a key part of this initiative and £20,000 in funding was ring-fenced, so that community groups could bid for cash to set-up and run their own projects.

“The winners included the Youth Education Project – BIG Society Bubble. This exciting project worked with around 1,770 young people, across seven Lincoln schools, where pupils watched the educational video “One Friday Night,”” said Miss Cooney.

 “Almost 100 different sessions were delivered, raising awareness of alcohol misuse and anti-social behaviour. The programme was a great success and many schools asked for extra sessions.”

 

Another winner was Betel UK – a faith-based organisation which  helps the “hard to reach” community, including young street drinkers. By establishing links with other services in Lincoln, it was able to provide a unique service, which included a residential placement at Betel’s rehabilitation farm.

Over the last year, the Betel project has worked with around 20 people from the Lincoln area. Six are still learning new skills at its residential farm in Nottinghamshire.

 

Finally, £10,000 of funding allowed a City of Lincoln Council Alcohol Intervention Worker to develop a multi-agency group to address the problems of street drinking. This has also had an impact in cutting the incidence of street drinking and increasing the number of referrals to other support agencies. .

Lincoln BIG Chief Executive Matt Corrigan said: “We are extremely pleased with the outcomes of the Evening Safety Project, although it is recognised that this is not an area where the city can rest on its laurels.

“However, the valuable work achieved through this multi-faceted project will carry on, because the groups involved and the wealth of information gathered has created a firm foundation on which to build.”