By Louise Wylie
Alcohol Awareness Week begins in the south west of Edinburgh as part of Police Scotland’s strategy to reduce youth alcohol abuse.
Starting today, the Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP) in the area will attempt to highlight the dangers of underage drinking and problematic drinking behaviour.
Community Alcohol Partnerships are collaborative efforts between emergency forces, schools and local retailers.
A statement from local police read: “Community Alcohol Partnerships bring together local retailers & licensees, trading standards, police, health services, education providers and other local stakeholders to tackle the problem of underage drinking and associated anti-social behaviour.”
The CAP model is shown to be more effective that traditional enforcement methods as it recognises that retailers and licensees are a part of the solution.
CAP schemes are operated in a clearly define local area, which draws in local partners and stakeholders to develop and implement a tailored solution at a grassroots level.
The South West CAP was launched on August 30th and has received support from over 90 local organisations.
During the Alcohol Awareness Week (Nov, 19 – 26), officers will conduct visits to schools, man stalls at retailers and undertake compliance checks to ensure shops are not selling alcohol to minors.
In addition, they will hand out awareness packs and paint stencils which warn members of the public not to buy drink for under 18s.
The main area of concern for police is the proliferation of energy drink/alcohol hybrids such as Dragon Soop, which has been linked to anti-social behaviour.
In response to police campaigning, all major retailers in the South West region have removed Dragon Soop from shelves.
Work has now begun on educating staff at independent shops, which often do not have the resources to fund this training.
Community Alcohol Partnerships were launched in 2007, and there are now over 165 in Britain.
They are funded by the alcohol industry as part of their social responsibility.
Areas with a Community Alcohol Partnership have seen on average a 40% reduction in youth alcohol-related anti-social behaviour.
There are plans to introduce another 150 CAPs nationwide by 2021.
Denis Dixon, a local councillor for the Sighthill/Gorgie ward, said: “This is a tried and tested strategy and there is assurance that everything’s moving in the right direction. So, watch this space. Hopefully we’ll see results come through in the future.”