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22 November 2012, 10:00
More than half of shops in Ipswich have now signed up to stop selling super-strength alcohol as part of the 'Reducing the Strength' campaign.
The campaign, run by Suffolk Police and partners, was launched in the town in September, and aims to stop the sale of super strength beer, lager and cider from off-licensed premises.
Since the campaign’s launch, national retailer Waitrose has pledged its support, by signing up it’s town centre and East Ipswich stores, and in total an additional ten stores have become super strength free.
Initial support was secured from national partner, the East of England Co-Operative Society, who helped launch the initiative. Following this, Tesco agreed to remove these products from its stores in the Ipswich Borough District, as did Martin McColl.
Talks are underway between campaign representatives and other national retailers in the town, with the response so far being resoundingly positive.
The campaign is a joint initiative between Suffolk Police, NHS Suffolk, Ipswich Borough Council, Suffolk County Council and the East of England Co-Operative Society and involves partners asking off-licence owners to voluntarily remove super strength products from their stores.
Following the campaign launch, 53 of the town’s stores were ‘super strength free’. Sixty-three stores are now signed up, meaning over half of the premises in the town are on board.
Assistant Chief Constable Tim Newcomb said, “We are really pleased with the support we have received from national retailers, as well as from members of the public and from police forces and councils across the country. The campaign has sparked a huge amount of interest locally and nationally, with many people intrigued by the idea and recognising the positive impacts it could bring.
“What we need now is further support from the people at the heart of this, the businesses who sell super strength alcohol to vulnerable people, whose lives are being damaged by this extremely harmful substance. Key national retailers have publicly pledged their support to our campaign, and we now want independent stores to follow suit, and get involved.
“We know the damage it can cause, one can of super strength lager can contain the entire recommended daily intake of alcohol. The effect it can therefore have on individuals who drink it and on the communities where it is sold and where it is consumed, can be quite significant.
“We have written to every off-licence owner in the town, outlining how they can get involved. It is voluntary for them to sign up, but we would like them to make their participation formal, by amending their licence conditions to prevent them selling these products permanently. This usually attracts a fee, but our partners at Ipswich Borough Council have removed this charge for anyone who signs up between now and April next year.
“We are now in the process of visiting each store to talk to the business owners about the positive effects this change could bring for them, and to answer any concerns they may have.
“I would encourage the owner of any off-licensed store in the town who has not already signed up to get in contact with us, to talk to us about the campaign, the support we can offer in helping them go ‘super strength free’, and how they can help us improve the quality of life in Ipswich.”