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‘Reducing the Strength’ campaign introduced to Weymouth

A campaign to stop sales of super-strength beer and cider in shops is underway in Weymouth.

The ‘Reducing the Strength’ campaign has already seen seven shops voluntarily sign up since the scheme was first introduced in September.

The initiative is dedicated to tackling problems that surround street drinking in Weymouth which has an impact on crime and anti-social behaviour.

It looks to limit the ability of street drinkers to buy super-strength beer and ciders.

Super-strength includes any beer and ciders with an alcohol volume of over 6.5 per cent that is sold cheaply. It does not include premium products.

It has been modelled on the successful campaign of the same name which was first introduced in Ipswich in 2011.

The campaign is a joint project between Weymouth & Portland Borough Council, Dorset Police, Public Health Dorset and Dorset County Council’s trading standards service.

It is initially being run across Weymouth Town Centre and Abbotsbury Road. Shops which have signed up so far include Bon Bon, Mace, Derby Stores, Eats & Drinks, Lennox Street Store, Lodmoor Hill Post Office and Beals Newsagent.

The aim is to sign up all supermarkets, off-licences and shops that sell alcohol in Weymouth to the scheme.

Cllr Geoff Petherick, Brief Holder for Community Safety at Weymouth & Portland Borough Council, said: “Street drinking and the anti-social behaviour that surrounds it is an issue we want to tackle in Weymouth. Cheap super-strength alcoholic drinks have a huge negative impact on both the consumer and the wider community.

“We want to deal with the problem at the source by encouraging licensees to voluntarily remove all super strength beer and cider from their premises.”

Statistics show that there were 385 incidents of alcohol-related anti-social behaviour between July 2012 and July 2013 within the town centre.

Tim Beals, owner of Beals Newsagent on Dorchester Road, said: “When we sold super-strength ciders we would often have problems with some of the customers who purchased that sort of drink. They would often loiter outside and intimidate staff and other customers.

“Since we stopped selling it our client base has improved and my staff feel a lot safer.”

The initiative is part of a wider scheme to address issues associated with street drinking. The second part of this approach involves working with local drug and alcohol agencies to address the individual needs of street drinkers to ensure that they receive the appropriate treatment and support.

Any shops or off-licences in the Abbotsbury Road or Weymouth town centre area interested in signing up to the scheme or would like more information can contact Melissa Johnson, Community Safety Officer at Weymouth & Portland Borough Council, on 01305 226863.

Issued: 1 October 2013