Representatives from a range of agencies gathered at Tonbridge Castle on Friday 13 July to celebrate the launch of the new Tonbridge Community Alcohol Partnership – a scheme aimed at preventing underage drinking with a mix of education, enforcement, community engagement and by providing diversionary activities for young people.
The Tonbridge Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP) aims to raise awareness in young people of the risks of drinking alcohol, reduce incidents of alcohol sales to young people, reduce proxy purchasing of alcohol for young people who are under 18, reduce anti-social behaviour associated with alcohol consumption and improve the public’s general understanding of different alcohol strengths and the number of units in different drinks.
In the lead up to the launch, members of the CAP have visited local licensed premises and retailers to engage with them about the new partnership and to let them know how they can be involved. Kent Trading Standards have also played an important role in the CAP by supporting and advising local retailers and carrying out a mystery shopper exercise to assess whether ID checks are being carried out appropriately in the town.
At the launch, Leader of Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council, Nicolas Heslop, MP for Tonbridge and Malling, Tom Tugendhat (pictured) and CAP Chair Derek Lewis were joined by representatives from local agencies, businesses and organisations who will work together to manage and run the CAP. There was also a performance from Hillview School for Girls and Tonbridge Grammar School which helped to show the key involvement that schools play within the CAP and in educating young people in the area.
Leader of Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council, Nicolas Heslop said: “Underage and irresponsible drinking is not a huge problem in Tonbridge, but the risks and dangers of the issue should not be underestimated. The formation of the new CAP is about preventing these issues, by working in a more informed way and proactively coming up with actions to stop the problems before they grow. Over time, with the support of local licensed premises’ owners and parents, the CAP hopes to improve attitudes and see a significant change in behaviour.”
Tom Tugendhat MP for Tonbridge and Malling said: “Protecting young people from the devastating effects of alcohol is an important part of parenting. But it isn’t easy in a society where binge drinking is normal. British children are more likely to binge drink or get drunk than children in most other European countries, which can seriously damage their health and development and increase their risk of excessive consumption in later life. As we know, alcohol consumption impacts on a wide range of issues, and for young people this can range from underperformance at school and later exclusion from the job market, to mental ill health and homelessness. I welcome CAP’s joined-up, partnership approach to addressing this issue and look forward to seeing the impact of their work in the future.”
The Tonbridge Community Alcohol Partnership will be run by a partnership of agencies including Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council, Kent County Council, Kent Police, the Retail of Alcohol Standards Group and the NHS Kent and Medway. The CAP aims to change attitudes to drinking by:
- advising young people on sensible drinking
- supporting retailers to reduce sales of alcohol to underage drinkers
- promoting responsible socialising
- empowering local communities to tackle alcohol related issues
The Programme will also include an educational element by working with:
- Young people to raise awareness of the dangers of drinking alcohol, proxy purchasing and the support available
- Parents so that they know how to discuss these issues with their children and
- Managers and owners of licensed premises to ensure that they understand their responsibilities and how they can avoid selling to underage young people.
There are now over 160 CAPs across the UK, which have enjoyed considerable success. Tonbridge Community Alcohol Partnership is the second CAP in the borough with the other being in Snodland which has been running successfully since 2012. CAP Chairman Derek Lewis said: “‘I am delighted to see the launch of a CAP in Tonbridge. Community Alcohol Partnerships are a tried and tested way of driving down underage drinking and creating better, safer and friendlier neighbourhoods.”
To report proxy alcohol or underage alcohol sales or to discuss other related issues, please contact the Tonbrige and Malling Community Safety Partnership by emailing [email protected] or by calling 01732 844522.
For more information please contact Sally Seal, Media & Communications Officer
Tel: 01732 876035 or email [email protected]