Islington’s 2012 Annual Public Health Report focuses on the health impacts of alcohol. The report explains:
“Alcohol has an important and positive role in British culture and is used widely in our social and family life. It also plays an important role in our economy. The UK’s alcohol drinks market is estimated to be worth more than £30 billion per year and is a significant part of Islington’s thriving night time economy, contributing to employment and economic development. The vast majority of people enjoy alcohol without causing any harm to themselves or others. However alcohol is a toxic substance that can have a detrimental effect on nearly all parts of the body. Increasingly, alcohol is becoming a significant cause of personal, social and economic harm.
Although in recent years there has been an overall decline in consumption, this is not consistent across all age groups. There are economic, health and social consequences of alcohol-related harm and a strong link with deprivation. Often the negative effects of alcohol are felt by someone other than the person who has been drinking, for instance children.”
The report contains some shocking statistics. For example, of the 1,356 domestic violence offences reported in Islington in 2011/12, 607 were indentified as alcohol-related. Alcohol-related harm was estimated at costing the NHS at least £25.1 billion in 2008 and £230 million in Islington. Alcohol contributes to one in twenty deaths in Islington. The borough has the highest rate of alcohol related hospital admissions in London.
5 Ways to Take Action
The report suggested 5 ways to take action:
1. Increasing awareness: Understanding of alcohol to be increased locally through the provision of clear, sensible advice around what is low risk drinking and why this is important.
2. Screening & brief intervention: Innovative approaches for the provision of identification (screening) and brief advice (IBA) and alcohol liaison models to be expanded and developed.
3. Strengthening enforcement: Recent changes in licensing regulations to be used to further strengthen the approach to managing alcohol availability locally.
4. Accessible treatment services: For those who need it, ease of access to alcohol treatment services that are fit for purpose to be improved.
5. Collaborative working: Building on work already occurring locally, to ensure there is a strong partnership approach to maximise alcohol harm reduction, including enforcement of licensing regulations, IBA and high quality treatment services.”
Islington Council is currently consulting on its licensing policy in order to address many of the issues identified in the report. The consultation is open until 21 December – please visit the Council website for information about the consultation and making your voice heard.