Home Office Minister, Norman Baker MP visited Greater Manchester this week (Tuesday, 30th September) to see how the region is cracking down on alcohol abuse.
The Crime Prevention Minister saw first-hand some of the innovative ways Greater Manchester is pulling together to promote responsible drinking and reduce the harm caused by alcohol.
Alcohol consumption costs Greater Manchester £1.2bn every year – that’s £436 for every person living in the region. Greater Manchester has been designated by the government as one of 20 new Local Alcohol Action Areas (LAAA’s).
The Greater Manchester alcohol strategy – a major effort to clamp down on alcohol abuse – was launched in August by the ten authorities of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).
It is the first time ever in the UK that such a large number of public bodies have united to deal with the problems caused by alcohol harm. The strategy focuses on making effective use of licensing powers, protecting victims of domestic abuse and improving awareness of the impact of drinking, in line with national objectives set by the government.
During his visit, Norman Baker MP met Cllr Mike Connolly, GMCA lead for the strategy and leader of Bury Council and Jim Battle, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester.
He also met students at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), which is piloting a ground-breaking Alcohol Impact project funded by the Home Office. MMU is one of seven universities working with the National Union of Students to encourage students to drink alcohol responsibly.
Cllr Mike Connolly, GMCA’s lead for the strategy, said: “We were pleased to welcome the Minister and for him to see the innovative and ground-breaking work which Greater Manchester is doing to beat the scourge of alcohol abuse. It is crucial that our strategy has the support of students and young people. Hopefully, through this kind of project, we can change attitudes, which will see young people have a good time while using alcohol responsibly.”
People battling with alcohol die earlier, go to hospital more often and struggle to hold down regular work. Binge drinking also has a massive effect on town centres putting pressure on businesses and impacting on the safety of residents.
Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Jim Battle said: “Tackling the issue of alcohol abuse and binge drinking is everybody’s business. Not only can it lead to crime and disorder in our city centres, but it puts the health and wellbeing of individuals and the wider community at risk.
“Educating people on the impact of alcohol misuse is essential to addressing the issue so it’s great to see the student community get on board with this and is an example of communities and partner agencies working together to encourage responsible drinking.”
Mary Heaney, MMU’s Director of Services, said the Alcohol Impact project was an innovative culture change initiative ‘which exemplifies the University’s strong commitment to its neighbouring communities’.
She said: “The opportunity to join forces with our Students’ Union and our wider student community in developing a socially responsible alcohol culture reinforces our institutional commitment to being a good neighbour. It will create benefits in relation to student health, academic achievement, employability and community relations.”
About the Alcohol Impact Project at Manchester Metropolitan University
The MMU students are helping deliver the National Union of Students (NUS) Alcohol Impact project, which is funded by the Home Office to change the behaviour of students when it comes to binge drinking.
Steps under consideration by universities in the project are:
- Provide alcohol-free places and events for students to socialise
- Target sports clubs and societies to promote responsible drinking
- Stop Student Union bars from serving intoxicated customers
- Restrict advertising for alcohol on campus
If successful the university will gain an accreditation mark for responsible alcohol policy and practice.