Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Leader: My City Has a Drink Problem; Police under Fire for Failure to Get Tough

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Leader: My City Has a Drink Problem; Police under Fire for Failure to Get Tough

Article excerpt

Byline: Adrian Pearson

TYNESIDE'S most senior police officers are failing to take the problems caused by drink seriously enough, the leader of Newcastle City Council claimed yesterday. Nick Forbes told a national drink conference in Manchester that he does not believe the daily reality of alcohol-fuelled crime seen by beat officers is reflected in the attention given to the problem by senior officers.

Telling delegates that "Newcastle has a drink problem," Mr Forbes called for a package of measures to help the city, including stronger licensing powers from Government, a greater sense of commitment from Northumbria Police and the introduction of a 50p minimum alcohol unit price.

Minimum pricing plans under consideration by the Government are thought to be 10p lower per unit than the 50p recommended in Scotland, with Mr Forbes saying the region had to follow the lead set north of the border.

"I want senior officers to listen more to their beat officers about the effect alcohol is having on their communities and translate that into action," he said.

"Somehow there is a disconnect between police officers' daily experience of dealing with alcohol-related crime and the messages given out by their senior colleagues at force HQ."

Northumbria Police was heavily criticised recently by Newcastle councillors who said they had been temporarily unable to push through stronger drink controls because of the lack of support from senior officers.

Part of the current problem, Mr Forbes said, was in addressing the drink problems that occur outside of the city centre.

"We need to wake up to the fact that we are in the middle of an alcohol crisis and that new approaches are needed," the Labour leader said.

He added: "It's only recently that we've steered the debate away from city centre issues and started to look at the real problem, alcohol in the home . …

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