Community Alcohol Partnership launched in Wisbech to tackle drink-related crime

A SCHEME to tackle under-age drinking in Wisbech has been launched. The Community Alcohol Partnership scheme was piloted in St Neots in 2007 and hailed a huge success in reducing anti-social behaviour and alcohol-related crime.

A SCHEME to tackle under-age drinking in Wisbech was launched last week.

The Community Alcohol Partnership scheme was piloted in St Neots in 2007. It was hailed such a success in reducing anti-social behaviour and alcohol-related crime that it is now being rolled out to 11 areas of the country, including Wisbech.

Reporter ADAM LAZZARI attended the launch at The Boathouse Business Centre last Thursday to find out more.

PARENTS left a 13-year-old girl with vodka, wine and beer for her and friends to drink at a party in Wisbech.

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The party, held about a month ago, spiralled out of control and an under-age girl had sex with a 15-year-old boy.

The girl was drunk, struggled to remember the incident and believed she had been raped - but it was later discovered that this was not the case.

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Karen Beaton, Cambridgeshire County Council's locality manager for Wisbech, told this story to an audience that included traders, publicans, councillors and police at the launch of the Community Alcohol Partnership scheme last Thursday.

She said: "This girl drank half a bottle of vodka and did not consider the risks she was putting herself in. She had to have a pregnancy test and the 15-year-old boy had to be interviewed by police on suspicion of rape.

"This all happened because some parents thought it was okay to leave a 13-year-old girl and her friends with alcohol.

"The CAP scheme aims to change both the way young people and parents view alcohol."

A panel will meet regularly, and there will be frequent patrols and discussions with traders and publicans.

Philip Loring, from the Alcohol Standards Group, said: "The figures from the St Neots pilot were so impressive people did not believe they were true.

"By working together we can tackle the many problems that are caused by under-age drinking.

"We will provide training for retailers and go into schools and educate young people about the dangers of alcohol."

Charlotte Wilson, trading standards officer and CAP project manager, said: "A key part of this scheme is building relationships with traders selling the alcohol. They will know they can call us any time if they need any training or advice."

• THERE were almost 1,000 alcohol seizures in Wisbech last year - and the town's inspector called for that number to be "in the 10s" within 12 months.

Inspector Andy Sullivan told the conference there were 964 seizures last year.

He said: "I wish you weren't here today because that would mean there isn't a problem, but unfortunately there is one.

"If two young lads get arrested they may have to spend a night in the cells, their parents are affected, they may then have to go through all the paperwork involved in the court process and their employers will be affected when they don't turn up for work. What starts as a small ball rolling, quickly becomes a massive boulder of problems.

"We had 964 alcohol seizures last year. This time next year I want this figure to be in the 10s not the hundreds.

"If this scheme has half the success of the St Neots pilot, it will be fantastic, but I want us to do even better."

A VILLAGE pub landlord said he is looking to turn his restaurant into a bistro for young people.

During a question and answer session Adam Budd, landlord of The Woodman's Cottage in Gorefield, said: "The major problem for young people in Fenland is boredom. After school clubs are not cool enough and pottery classes might have been a good idea 30 years ago, but not anymore.

"We need to ask young people what they want to do, not tell them.

"I'm looking to turn my pub restaurant into a bistro for young people. Some people might not think a pub is a good place for youngsters but it is a controlled environment. It means they won't be sitting in a park drinking alcohol."

• FENLAND District Council leader, Councillor Alan Melton, told the conference: "One big problem for young people is transportation and we are working at the council to improve this. We need to ensure that young people can get to the facilities that are available for them."

Q & A

What were the results of the St Neots pilot?

• A 42 per cent decrease in anti-social behaviour incidents from August 2007 (pre-project) to February 2008 (post-project).

• A 94 per cent decrease in under-age people found in possession of alcohol.

• A 92 per cent decrease in alcohol-related litter at under-age drinking hotspots.

• The amount of alcohol found on young people in St Neots was significantly lower than expected.

• No new hotspot problem areas were created.

• A better relationship was established between retailers and enforcers.

• Research shows that people felt that public spaces became more pleasant.

Why was St Neots chosen for the pilot and why is it being brought to Wisbech?

Results from police neighbourhood forum meetings and surveys show that people in St Neots and Wisbech felt that under age drinking is a major concern.

How long will the scheme run for?

Results will be reviewed in six months and it will be taken from there. The idea is that this will run indefinitely but less time and resource will need to be put into it as young people, parents and retailers are better educated and trained.

Could the scheme be rolled out across Fenland?

CAP project manager Charlotte Wilson said: "If this is successful there is every chance we will develop it in March, Chatteris and Whittlesey."

Who is involved in the CAP?

Cambridgeshire County Council, Fenland District Council, Cambridgeshire Police, Retail of Alcohol Standards Groups, community groups, schools and traders.

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