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Community Alcohol Partnerships prove a huge success

By Oli Gross

- Last updated on GMT

Community Alcohol Partnerships prove a huge success

Related tags Underage drinking Drinking culture

After the 100th Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP) was launched in Bedfordshire last week, Oli Gross looks at the benefits of the scheme

Community Alcohol Partnerships were launched nine years ago and aim to tackle underage drinking and antisocial behaviour in areas with evidence of a problem, and the scheme has reported huge success.

CAPs aim to build coalitions between licensees, retailers, police, trading standards, local authorities and other networks in a bid to tackle alcohol-related problems at their cause. The partnerships also visit youth services and schools to ensure young people receive alcohol education, and promote healthy activities.


Organisers argue that the resulting reduced antisocial behaviour benefits the pub trade because residents feel safer in the area and are more likely to go out and enjoy the night-time economy.

In Tower Hamlets, east London, there has been a 46% decrease in antisocial behaviour, an 87% decrease in alcohol seizures and an 80% decrease in youth disorder since the introduction of a CAP. In other areas, youth alcohol-related crime has halved since a CAP was set up.

Steve Head is owner of Shush Nightclub in Wantage, Oxfordshire, where a CAP has been in place for more than a year.

“Underage drinking is a problem everywhere, and now everyone here is getting on board to stop it,” he said. “We can all understand each other’s points of view, and discuss how we get to a joint goal.

“It’s not just people in an ivory tower telling us to sort it out. It’s people on the streets, the landlords doing it for themselves.”


Head is also a member of the local Pubwatch. The group introduced a measure that bans underage drinkers from all pubs in the town from the date of their 18th birthday for a year. They shared their work with CAP to highlight their problems with underage drinkers and discuss potential solutions.

He continued: “We can share concerns about fake ID, or whatever it is, and we are finding the authorities are listening to us with a view to providing a solution, not just condemning us. You aren’t going to be hung out to dry any more. It proves we’re thinking about the issues.”

The scheme helps educate those in the community who aren’t aware of the wider damage underage drinking can do, Head argued. “People need to know the impact it has on the community and be realistic. It is an issue and it’s always going to be one. The key is education and making everyone aware of the problem,” he added.

Decision makers

CAPs aim to help licensees build positive relationships with police and councils, and decision makers such as crime commissioners and local MPs.

Licensees in mid Devon teamed up with police to introduce a scheme to confiscate suspected fake IDs, which was credited with reducing underage drinking in the area.

And in Kent, pubco Shepherd Neame has been heavily involved and worked with police and trading standards to promote responsible retailing across the area.

CAP director Kate Winstanley told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser​ how the scheme benefits pubs. “Instead of trying to catch out premises, we help to raise standards so that everyone is working towards the same aim,” she said. “It’s education rather than enforcement, unless enforcement becomes absolutely necessary — and that is generally only after all other measures to raise standards have failed.”

CAPs have proved successful in driving down alcohol-related antisocial behaviour across the country.


In Barnsley, a CAP has delivered a 30% reduction in alcohol-related antisocial behaviour, compared with a 7.4% drop in matched control areas. In Great Yarmouth, there has been a 61% decrease in crime and disorder reports linked to street drinking, compared to just a 25% decrease across the rest of Norfolk.

The CAP launched last week in Biggleswade has high expectations, and aims to provide training for all members of the local Pubwatch.

Derek Lewis, chair of Community Alcohol Partnerships said: “I am confident that Biggleswade’s comprehensive action plan and partner involvement have the makings of yet another successful CAP project.

“The schemes play an increasingly important role in reducing underage drinking in local communities across the UK. To have reached our 100th CAP is a significant landmark.”

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