‘Scourge on society’: Alcohol abuse and binge-drinking costs Greater Manchester £1.2billion every year

Binge drinking and alcohol abuse is costing Greater Manchester £1.2billion per year to combat crime, homelessness and ill health according to a report.

The figures, from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, state that every person in the area pays £436 each year to deal with the effects of excessive drinking.

It also states that the regions alcohol strategy needs to be addressed to effectively tackle the causes and effects of alcohol abuse.

Mike Connolly, Leader of Bury Council, said: “The impact of alcohol abuse is everybody’s business.

“It impacts on the health and wellbeing of our residents, the safety of our communities and the future success of our town centres and their night-time economies.

“It’s essential we team up, roll up our sleeves to tackle this scourge on society together.”

Earlier this year, a report from the Office of National Statistics labelled Mancunians as more likely to drink themselves to death than other Britons.

Thirty-eight per cent of violent incidents in Greater Manchester that result in an injury involve alcohol and one in three domestic incidents is alcohol related.

And typically people battling with alcohol die earlier, go to hospital more often and struggle to hold down regular work.

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan of Greater Manchester Police said: “Greater Manchester has many areas which have a thriving nightlife.

“But unfortunately long opening hours of pubs and clubs and the easy availability and cheap cost of buying alcohol from supermarkets has meant more people are getting excessively drunk.

“This is causing a nuisance and harm to themselves and others.

“This results in an increase in demands on the police, health services and local councils who are faced with managing both the risks to individuals and the damage that is caused to lives and our streets.”

The report has recommended a number of changes that would need to see an involvement from all ten councils – as well as the police and health services – in order for it to work.

This would include making sure licensing powers are more effective and used consistently and the right services are put in place to protect victims of domestic abuse.

It also recommends supporting public health activity to reduce the levels of drinking across the whole local population with a focus on education.

Jim Battle, deputy police commissioner for Greater Manchester said: “Pulling together and implementing a comprehensive alcohol strategy across Greater Manchester presents a unique opportunity.

“To direct our collective efforts to address the harm caused by alcohol, making best use of good practice that is taking place locally and the resources we have available.

“The strategy has been designed to do just that and will ensure that communities and partners work together in a coordinated, complementary way.”

The proposed strategy will be put before local council leaders at the next meeting of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities on Friday August 29.

If it is approved, it would be the first time in the UK such a large number of public bodies have united to launch an alcohol strategy.

Image courtesy of Lisa Roe, with thanks

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