Supermarkets and off licences in the West Midlands would be asked to sign a deal to stop them selling super-strength alcohol cheaply under plans proposed by the region’s police chief.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones has been in talks with health and council bosses in Wolverhampton with the aim of stopping city centre off licences selling high-proof alcohol cheaply.
The proposals have been put forward in a bid to tackle booze-fuelled crime and, if successful, Mr Jones said the voluntary scheme would be rolled out across the Black Country and the whole of the West Midlands.
The police chief said he wants to put an end to a culture of ‘beer cheaper than water’ in stores.
Currently, a similar model exists in Ipswich where 70 per cent of off-sale sites have signed up to the scheme, which is backed by Suffolk Police, NHS Suffolk and local councils. Since it was implemented, anti-social behaviour and street drinking has dropped.
Ros Jervis, director of public health in Wolverhampton, is understood to be heading out to the Suffolk town to view how the initiative is run and aims to bring it to the West Midlands.
Mr Jones said: “We are keen to look at how it is being used in Ipswich before it is introduced here. What we don’t want to do is bring it into a town or city centre then someone simply walks across the border and goes and buys their cheap alcohol there.
“Part of the issue is it is a voluntary scheme and there’s no good having one or two involved, we have to get a significant number involved for it to have any impact.
“This isn’t something that is targeting strong beers it is targeting strong beers that are cheap to buy. The director of public health in Wolverhampton is going to go to Ipswich and will be looking in detail before reporting back.
“ From a police perspective we would be very supportive to work with off-licences and supermarkets. At the moment there are supermarkets that are selling alcohol cheaper than water – that isn’t right.”
Figures obtained by the Express & Star earlier this year revealed that in 2011 and 2012, there were 5,279 drunk and disorderly arrests across the West Midlands, meaning that police are having to deal with up to 50 alcohol-fuelled arrests a week.
In the Black Country alone, there were almost 1,800 offences during that period. This summer saw a rise in booze-fuelled crime compared to last year where offences increased by 235 – an increase of 8.5 per cent.