RESEARCH completed in 2010 estimated alcohol misuse could be costing our society as much as a staggering £900 million per year… that is equivalent to 50 Downe Hospitals. The message is clear… cut down on alcohol misuse or we all pay a far excessive price at the end of the day.
And now with the onset of longer evenings and people opting to spend more time outdoors, parents are being encouraged to use the ‘You, Your Child and Alcohol’ campaign to talk to their children about alcohol and the consequences of underage drinking.
Developed and supported by the Police Service, Department of Justice, Northern Ireland Policing Board, Public Health Agency and Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, the campaign uses television advertisements and a booklet to encourage and support parents to have conversations with their children about alcohol.
Assistant Chief Constable William Kerr, of the Police Service of Northern Ireland said, “Underage drinking can and does have serious consequences. Young people can become victims of crime, incur serious injuries as a result of having drunk too much, or commit crime fuelled by alcohol. Police officers are committed to protecting communities and their young people, and to support this awareness campaign Police will be enforcing ‘Operation Snapper’, in cities, towns and villages across Northern Ireland over the Easter period.
“Officers will proactively target drinking in public places, by removing alcohol and making referrals to the relevant local authority for prosecution or participation in youth diversionary activities.”
. The ‘You, Your Child and Alcohol’ campaign is part of a wider package of measures designed to reduce the negative impact and cost of alcohol abuse to society.
A range of policy measures are being considered to reduce the harm related to alcohol and drug misuse in Northern Ireland. The Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety recently launched a public consultation, on the New Strategic Direction for Alcohol and Drugs (Phase 2) 2011 – 2016, seeking views on the proposed way forward. The consultation document is available on the DHSSPS website www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/index/consultations and responses are invited by 5pm on Tuesday 31 May 2011.
The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety has also launched a joint consultation with the Department of Social Development seeking views on the setting of a minimum price per unit of alcohol to tackle problems associated with the availability of cheap alcohol in Northern Ireland. Views are also sought on other possible alternatives to minimum unit pricing, including below-cost selling, VAT, duty increases and the introduction of a social responsibility levy. The consultation paper is available online from the DSD website (www.dsdni.gov.uk). Responses are invited by 5pm on 26 June 2011.
Outlining the negative impact underage drinking can have, Brian Rea, Acting Chair of the Northern Ireland Policing Board said:
“Underage drinking is one of the biggest issues of policing concern within our communities and it is often associated with instances of antisocial behaviour, criminal damage and assault, all of which contribute to crime and the fear of crime. Figures show that 1 in 10 young people who have drunk alcohol have ended up in trouble with the police.
“In supporting this campaign we want to make parents think about the wide ranging risks and impact that alcohol can have on their children both now and in the future and the importance of establishing rigid boundaries around alcohol.”
This is a positive step is trying the stop the haemmorrhaging of public funds through alcohol abuse and deserves our support.