East Devon District Council

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Guide East and Mid Devon Community Safety Partnership plans

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5. Tackle problem alcohol misuse

Alcohol misuse is a major cause of illness, injury and death. The World Health Organisation has identified alcohol as the third largest risk factor to health in developed countries.

The number of alcohol-related deaths in the United Kingdom has consistently increased since the early 1990s, rising from the lowest figure of 4,023 (6.7 per 100, 000) in 1992 to the highest of 9,031 (13.6 per 100,000) in 2008. Although figures in recent years suggested that the trend was levelling out, alcohol-related deaths in males increased further in 2008.

Female rates have remained stable. In England, the latest statistics suggest that the total number of deaths directly related to alcohol consumption has increased since 2001, rising by 24 per cent between 2001and 2008. The main contributor to this increase is deaths from alcoholic liver disease which has risen by 36 per cent over this period.

Since the early 1990s, the night time economy has emerged as a key focus for urban public policy, reflecting the changing character of towns and cities and the transformation of many urban centres has been remarkable. Such areas are easily identifiable for their youth orientation and focus upon alcohol consumption as the key social activity. In relation to alcohol, the night time economy raises numerous issues including crime, disorder, anti-social behaviour and public health.

The role of alcohol in crime and public disorder has for some years been a high profile topic for public debate. Staff in criminal justice agencies and emergency services are confronted daily with the results of alcohol-related crime disorder and anti social behaviour. The many victims of this type of offence include those involved in street fights, domestic violence and sexual assault. The severity of alcohol related crime can vary widely from relatively low level offences such as rowdy drunkenness to violent assault. At the lower end of the scale alcohol-related disorder is intimidating but more serious forms of alcohol related violence have long-term effects on people’s lives. In addition, whole communities suffer as a result of rising fear of alcohol-fuelled disorder.