A new Reading-wide scheme that aims to raise issues of underage and anti-social drinking and protect young people was launched in the Madejski Stadium last week.
The Reading Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP) was launched on Friday, January 30 and comprises comprising of statutory agencies, retailers, voluntary and community groups and schools, all working together to help combat underage drinking.
CAP will provide work books and lesson plans for schools, colleges and the university as well as free training for every retailer in Reading that sells alcohol.
It also aims to lower the incidents of sales of alcohol to young people under the age of 18. These include proxy sales, when a person over the age of 18 buys alcohol on behalf of someone underage. The partnership also wants to reduce and maintain low levels of all alcohol related incidents that have a negative impact on communities – violent crime, anti-social behaviour, criminal damage and litter.
Additional Reading CAP activity will focus on raising awareness among parents and young people of the risks and consequences of drinking alcohol irresponsibly.
At the launch Russell Sharland, Community Alcohol Partnership Officer at Reading Trading Standards Department, said: “A recent survey showed that enforcement alone doesn’t change behaviour of underage drinking.”
Cllr Liz Terry – pictured above – added: “Working in partnership is most important. We need to reach out to young people and children about the dangers of alcohol.”
Matthew Knight, CAP officer at Reading Trading Standards and pictured below, explained that there were different problems in different areas of the borough.
He said: “The highest prevalence of street drinking is in the Oxford Road area of town, along with underage buying alcohol from shops. In the town centre though, it is the night-time economy that causes problems with the bars and pubs.”
Derek Lewis, Chair of CAP was confident that the launch of CAP in Reading would be a positive thing for the borough.
“CAP works,” he said. “It has a quantifiable impact and reduces underage drinking by creating partnerships and dealing with real local problems not national issues.
“By starting these dialogues other local problems can also be dealt with at the same time.”
Reading is now the largest CAP area in the country.
For more on the work of the Community Alcohol Partnerships, log on to its website.
If you have any information relating to the supply of alcohol to young people or street drinking, you can contact the police by calling 101 or anonymously contact the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.