Agenda item

Drug and Alcohol Action Team (Agenda Item 6)

Report by Daniel Harry, Drug and Alcohol Abuse Team.

Minutes:

Mr D. Harry of the Drug and Alcohol Action Team (NDAAT) was in attendance to present his report and answer Members’ questions.

 

NDAAT was created in 1995 to tackle substance misuse within Norfolk and covered four key areas which were treatment, young people, availability and communities and criminal justice.

 

The National Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy was re-focussed in 2007 with the publication of ‘Safe, Sensible, Social – Next Steps for the Government’s National Alcohol Strategy’.  This Strategy emphasised the following:-

 

·              A sharpened criminal justice response to alcohol-related crime and disorder.

·              A review of the impact of alcohol-related harm upon the NHS; to inform targeted spending.

·              Expansion of access to information and support.

·              Targeting underage sales.

·              Sensible drinking guidance for parents and young people.

·              Expansion of public information campaigns – ‘Know Your Limits’

·              Enhanced role for CDRPs to tackle alcohol-related crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour.

 

The NDAAT would be focussing on tackling the high risk target group of 16-24 years old.  Work would be undertaken with the 65+ group followed by the rest of the population.

 

Despite the lack of funding NDAAT had been able to progress the alcohol harm reduction agenda in Norfolk.  Dr John Greenaway of the School of Political, Social and Internal Studies at the University of East Anglia had undertaken research into the policy implications of the Licensing Act 2003.  An Alcohol Strategy Officer had been employed to focus on devising a Strategy based on Dr Greenaway’s research and then produce an Action Plan to reduce alcohol related harm in Norfolk.  Research had been undertaken by the Eastern Regional Public Health Observatory into alcohol related harm in Norfolk.  Work was ongoing to incorporate broader alcohol harm reduction into the Norfolk Local Area Agreements.

 

In response to Members queries Mr Harry provided the following information:-

 

·              The de-regulisation of the licensing hours would not have an effect on dependent drinkers but had provided an increased availability, especially in supermarkets.  Alcoholic beverages were used as loss leaders, sold at cheaper prices and positioned in areas which enticed people to purchase alcohol.  This increase in availability may have an impact on health in the longer term if people were drinking more.  If sales were restricted and the price of alcohol increased people may drink less.  The range of alcoholic drinks had diversified over the years; this had been to re-engage the public and entice them back to the public houses.  This campaign had been successful and there was the danger that young people would carry on drinking heavily well into their adulthood.

·              With regard to young people, especially young teenagers, there was issue with parents who may normalise the social attitude towards drink.  There was an education programme for schools which outlined the dangers of drinking alcohol.  Further to this there was a need to ensure that treatment was available for young people. 

         Members felt that parents needed to take a greater responsibility for children under 18.  The availability of alcohol did not help the situation and distributors should not be able to sell alcohol after 8.00 pm.

·              At the point of sale there needed to be information relating to the units of alcohol within an alcoholic drink.  The safe levels each day were 2-3 units for women and 3-4 units for men.  Although the units from drink to drink could differ quite dramatically.

·              With regard to the price of soft drinks within public houses and nightclubs the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP) had been introducing the Nightsafe scheme throughout Norfolk.  The scheme would engage with public houses and nightclubs and would encourage selling non-alcoholic drinks at a cheaper price.  The scheme worked toward making the night-time economy safe by reducing crime and disorder through engaging landlords and late night food establishments.

·              The Licensing Policy should be encouraging a more proactive approach though encouraging the sale of non-alcoholic substitutes.  The fabric of a bar and club should be investigated to ensure that there were places to sit down and the heating was not turned-up, which may encourage people to drink more.  With regard to planning when developing an urban area there should be regard to non-alcoholic based social activities to attract families back into the night-time economy.

·              Issues which could clearly be tackled at a local level such as the price of non-alcoholic drinks; engage with distributors; education in schools; sensible drinking messages.  There was engagement with GPs who did not have to ask whether a person was drinking too much but should be encouraged to ask the alcohol question.  With regard to the over 65s it was well known that this age group could be isolated, depressed and maybe self medicating by using alcohol.  However, there was a need to tackle national drivers which needed to go forward.

The NDAAT would be engaging with the local media together with the CDRP to send out a message over the Christmas period warning of the dangers of drinking to excess.

Members felt that in order to assess the level of alcohol related problems in Breckland a form should be made available through ‘Voice’ requesting that the public state where they lived and whether they experienced problems with alcohol related anti-social behaviour. The form should include the type of anti-social behaviour which was occurring. It was understood that the perception of anti-social behaviour was different from one person to another.  A map of the ‘hot spots’ for alcohol related anti-social behaviour within the District could then be compiled.

The Chairman thanked Mr Harry for a thorough report and for bringing the issues to the attention of the Panel.

RECOMMEND that the Overview and Scrutiny Commission recommend to Cabinet the insertion of a form for all Breckland residents to complete through ‘Voice’ requesting them to give their location and whether they suffered from alcohol related anti-social behaviour and include the type of anti-social behaviour which was occurring.

 

 

 

Supporting documents: