Boston shops to be asked to ban sale of super strength booze

Alan Hardwick
Alan Hardwick

Shops could be asked to ban the sale of super strength booze in Boston in a bid to cut crime and anti-social behaviour.

The idea has been floated by Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick and would see shops voluntarily sign up to a pledge to stop selling beer and cider with a strength above 6.5 per cent.

Mr Hardwick said a similar scheme has been successful in Suffolk - with like-for-like booze-fuelled crime cut in half since it was introduced last year.

The elected commissioner would like to roll that out in Lincolnshire, starting in Boston.

Mr Hardwick described anti-social behaviour as a ‘huge problem’ for the Boston area and said: “I think this could benefit the whole area. It’s only an idea at the moment but I’m impressed with the results already from Ipswich and I know that Norfolk are also looking at a ban.

“I think Boston could be next and then, if that’s successful, then it could be the whole of Lincolnshire.

“We know that drink is a contributory factor to anti-social behaviour and there are also the health concerns surrounding it.”

Mr Hardwick has raised the idea with MP Mark Simmonds and will discuss it with the chief constable.

There would be no sanctions against shops that didn’t sign up but Mr Hardwick said the incentive was ‘reputational’ – with outlets that do stop selling super-strength booze seen as responsible traders.

The Suffolk scheme came about to tackle the availability of the types of alcohol favoured by street drinkers.

About 65 per cent of Ipswich’s off licences signed up and police there say the number ‘incidents of concern’ surrounding street drinkers was 94 from September to March, down from 191 during the same period last year.

Crime in Lincolnshire fell by 14.2 per cent in the last year, according to the latest batch of crime figures.

Data released by police and crime commissioner Alan Hardwick show 6,250 fewer crimes were recorded in the county between April 2012 and March 2013 compared to same period last year.

In February 2013, Lincolnshire was ranked 14th out of 43 forces, an improvement from 21st position in February 2012 - with burglaries, violent crimes, sexual offences and thefts all falling in 2012/13.

Mr Hardwick said he was ‘delighted’ with the figures, which were particularly pleasing given Government funding cuts.

He also told The Standard: “There is no room for complacency - we will reduce those figures further.”