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Alcohol sales to intoxicated people lowered by 54% in Wirral

Earlier this month the Council’s public health team announced a significant reduction in the proportion of alcohol test purchases that resulted in the sale of alcohol to an actor pretending to be intoxicated.

The sales dropped from 90.0% pre-intervention to 36.8% post-intervention.

The results come from Drink Less Enjoy More (DLEM), a multi-agency initiative aiming to prevent excessive alcohol consumption and related harms in nightlife settings.

Across Merseyside, a broad range of policies and interventions have been employed to reduce such harms, including high profile policing, changes to licensing laws and environmental measures to improve the night time economy (NTE). While some evidence suggests that such measures can contain and manage alcohol related harms, they are limited in their ability to reduce levels of intoxication or address harmful and pervasive cultures of nightlife drunkenness.

The DLEM campaign aimed to do this through, in the first instance, raising adherence to and knowledge of UK legislation prohibiting the sale of alcohol to, or purchasing of alcohol for, drunk people. In Wirral, the DLEM intervention was implemented from October to November 2017 with results to be officially released in an upcoming report.

Last year, alcohol purchases by actors pretending to be intoxicated were made in venues across Wirral, including pubs, bars and clubs, prior to the implementation of the DLEM intervention.

Nine out of ten (90.0%) pre-intervention test purchases resulted in the service of alcohol, with one venue attempting to upsell (i.e. suggesting a double measure instead of a single). Following this, DLEM training was delivered to staff in venues by officers from Wirral Council and Merseyside Police.

Following the campaign, the purchase attempts were repeated, again using actors pretending to be intoxicated. A significant reduction in the proportion of alcohol test purchases which resulted in the sale of alcohol to a pseudo-intoxicated actor was noted with the figure falling from 90.0% pre-intervention to 36.8% post-intervention.

The public health team's and their partner's work on the Drink Less Enjoy More campaign will help to create a safer atmosphere in the night time economy for both customers and businesses.

The campaign was a ‘win win’ for all involved as the outcome meant that venues were better adhering to their alcohol licenses which in turn led to fewer intoxicated people being served alcohol. These results have an overall positive effect on the wider community as they help in creating a healthier culture around drinking alcohol.

In addition, the team’s ‘Reducing the Strength’ campaign has also seen great results in engaging with off licenses, asking them to pledge to stop selling cheap yet strong ‘super-strength’ alcohol products including certain white ciders. Set to massively surpass their original target of engaging 30% of Wirral off licenses by 2020, the team have already engaged and signed up 28.5% of off licenses. Work on this project began in 2015 and is ongoing.

These initiatives follow on from a wider scheme of work to lower problem drinking and increase community wellbeing. This scheme involved not only the Council and its partners but now, local businesses. This multi-agency approach will hopefully continue to have positive outcomes that benefit people across Wirral from all backgrounds.

You can read more about the Drink Less Enjoy More campaign here:

Alcohol Awareness week 2018 runs from 19-25 November. This year’s theme is ‘change’. See how drinking alcohol most nights adds up with the Drink Free Days Calculator at