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"Protect our children from cheap alcohol"

The leaders of 12 councils across the North East have written an open letter calling for the Government to protect children from cheap alcohol.

As leaders of the 12 councils in the North East of England with a responsibility for the public health of our communities we are increasingly concerned about the damage being caused by the widespread availability of cheap, strong alcohol. The latest North East figures speak for themselves:

– Open letter from 12 council leaders
  • One child is admitted to hospital every day because of alcohol
  • Alcohol related hospital admissions in the over 65s have doubled in the past 10 years
  • Over 570 alcohol related crimes are recorded in the region every day
  • It costs £3 million a day to clean up the problems caused by cheap booze.

The letter addressed to Andy Burnham MP, Paul Burstow MP, Jeremy Hunt MP and Norman Lamb MP goes on to blame the marketplace which "encourages and makes it easy" to consume alcohol.

It’s the most vulnerable who suffer as people in our most deprived communities are 45 per cent more likely to suffer an alcohol related death than those on the highest incomes.

It is clear local action is not enough. We need your help.

– Open letter from 12 council leaders

The letter asks the Government to put measures to tackle alcohol into the election manifesto.

  • Introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol set at 50p per unit.
  • Take measures to protect our children from the influence of alcohol marketing.
  • Review the licensing act, turning it into a strategic tool to be used by localities to minimise harm in their communities.

In the UK we are consuming twice as much alcohol as we did in the middle of the last century. The fact that it is 61 percent more affordable than it was in 1980; that we have seen a 25 per cent increase in off licensed premises selling alcohol; and that the industry is spending at least £800 million a year promoting its products is no coincidence. These are the things we need your help to address.

– Open letter from 12 council leaders


  1. National

Acpo: Austerity policing means 'prioritising calls'

Austerity has forced police to use their time more efficiently and this has meant prioritising calls from victims of alleged crimes, the Association of Chief Police Officers said.

President Sir Hugh Orde said:

We accept that the public has a natural expectation to have a positive and supportive experience of interacting with the police service when they have been a victim of crime.

The reality of austerity in policing means that forces must ensure that their officers' time is put to best use and this means prioritising calls.

In some instances, this may mean that a report of a crime where the victim is not in imminent danger or the offender is not still in the immediate vicinity will be dealt with over the phone or by other means than the deployment of an officer to the scene. This is not an abdication of forces' duty of care to victims.

– Sir Hugh Orde
  1. National

17 police forces 'failed to identify vulnerable callers'

Some 17 police constabularies in England and Wales have such a disinterested mindset towards some crimes they "failed to identify vulnerable callers", a watchdog has found.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found:

  • A total of 37 out of 43 forces in England and Wales used a system in which a call-handler assessed whether an officer should attend the scene of an incident.
  • But in some forces, call-handlers could not accurately describe what amounted to a risk or threat.
  • Attendance rates at crime scenes in the year to November 30 2013 varied widely between forces from 39% in Warwickshire to 100% in Cleveland.
  • This means that nearly two-thirds of crime scenes in Warwickshire were not attended by a police officer.
  • And in 17 forces, the Inspectorate found police community support officers (PCSOs) were being asked to investigate crimes beyond their role profile and training.


  1. National

Police need 'the tools to do the job'

Police need "the tools to do the job" if they are going to investigate every crime which is reported, a watchdog has told Good Morning Britain.

HMIC's Thomas Winsor said police did prioritise violent crimes but needed to be "properly supervised, properly lead and given the tools to do the job," if they were going to investigate more low level criminality.

Cleveland: Only police force to investigate all crimes

Cleveland Police is the only force in the country to investigate all crimes reported to it.

Cleveland's performance is in stark contrast to many other police forces, according to Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary - which suggests that many have given up on basic policing, because of a lack of resources.

There are 43 police forces in England and Wales. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees
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