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Minister praises Manchester crackdown on alcohol-related harm

Norman Baker discusses success of Local Alcohol Action Area scheme and pilot to tackle student binge drinking.

Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker has visited Manchester to hear about the success of projects to reduce the harm caused by excessive alcohol consumption.

Greater Manchester is one of 20 areas taking part in the Local Alcohol Action Areas (LAAAs) scheme, which aims to cut alcohol-related crime and disorder and reduce the damage caused to people’s health. At the same time, LAAAs have a goal of encouraging diverse and vibrant night-time economies.

Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker said:

The coalition government is taking a wide range of action to tackle excessive alcohol consumption, which damages health, local communities and the economy.

In Manchester I have seen first hand what can be achieved when local areas tackle the problem from all angles. Local authorities from all ten boroughs in Greater Manchester have worked together to come up with a unified strategy to address alcohol harms.

The Local Alcohol Action Area scheme is just one of the ways we are cracking down on this problem. We have also given local areas the power to restrict the sale of alcohol in the early hours and to ensure that those who profit from a late night licence help pay towards the costs of policing.

Work going on under the LAAA scheme includes local police co-ordinating their efforts with door staff at pubs and clubs and voluntary groups such as Street Pastors. A&E departments are agreeing to share anonymous data on violent incidents in order to help local police direct resources better, and schools and local businesses are collaborating to tackle under-age drinking.

Alcohol consumption is linked to nearly half of all violent incidents, and alcohol harm costs a total of £21 billion a year through NHS costs, alcohol-related crime and disorder, and lost productivity.

During the visit, the Minister also met students at Manchester Metropolitan University. The university is one of seven piloting a new project designed to tackle the culture of binge drinking at universities across England and Wales, launched in May by the coalition government and National Union of Students.

Under the scheme, accreditation will be awarded to universities that meet a set of criteria committing them to actions such as preventing alcohol-related initiation ceremonies, tackling student participation in irresponsible pub crawls and monitoring anti-social behaviour.

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