Welcome to Community Alcohol Partnerships

Reading’s Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP) was piloted by the Council’s Trading Standards Department in 2011 in two areas:  Tilehurst and Caversham.
In 2014 the Public Health Department recognised the potential of this initiative and provided funding and support to Trading Standards making Reading the first borough-wide Community Alcohol Partnership. 

Although Reading’s concerns about alcohol use are not limited to under 18s, the partners have been working on two main high harm areas where alcohol use by under 18s is a factor – these are Reading South and Oxford Road.

The key objectives of the Reading CAP are:

  • Reduction of underage drinking
  • Reduction in proxy purchasing
  • Help reduce alcohol related anti-social behaviour
  • Reduce alcohol related litter
  • Increase alcohol awareness

This is what we have achieved:

In 2016 the CAP saw a significant decline in Test Purchase failures from 72% to 17%. Test Purchases are where underage volunteers are used to attempt to buy alcohol to test retailers’ responses. We are delighted that this has remained at 17% in 2017.

Litter levels decreased significantly in 9 of 15 problem locations.

Reading CAP is working with schools and retailers to support CAP’s focus in raising awareness about the law relating to young people and alcohol and the impact of underage alcohol consumption on individuals and society. A Licensed Retailer Passport has been distributed to almost half Reading’s licensed retailers, who have already seen the benefits of supporting their staff to ensure they receive the essential training they require to be able to sell alcohol.

Both retailers and the general public now have a greater awareness of alcohol issues, including the law regarding proxy sales (when adults buy alcohol for children) and underage drinking through both the retailer training sessions and alcohol awareness sessions which CAP provides in the  community.

In 2016, over 400 of Reading’s young people received alcohol awareness sessions though school personal, social and health education (PSHE) sessions and workshops.  This has increased for 2017, and CAP has already reached over 800 young people.  Although it’s hard to measure the reduction in underage drinking, the data available and feedback we have received from young people is very positive, showing an increase in their knowledge and awareness of alcohol and enabling them to make more informed decisions when it comes to alcohol.

We have also received great feedback from teachers who felt that the awareness sessions were credible, useful, interesting and practical, offering good safety advice. They felt it was beneficial to cover the legal aspects of buying/drinking/selling alcohol and for students to learn about current issues with illicit alcohol and the damage it can cause.

Reading have trained a number of young people to become Youth Health Champions who offer support to their peers, raising awareness through health promotion campaigns, acting as role models and as a confidential route to professional support.

In a survey of nearly 250 parents conducted by the CAP, 75% of parents said they would not provide alcohol for their 16 year old son or daughter for a house party with close friends. The survey, called “how much is enough?” gave parents a choice between soft drinks only, a small number of beers, a bottle of wine or spirits and the significant majority opted for soft drinks only.

The survey explored social norms around access to alcohol by underage young people.  Previous surveys among young people themselves showed that those who did drink were often given alcohol by parents. It was believed that parents may be pressured by their teenagers into giving them alcohol for such occasions because that was “what everyone else did.” According to the survey results though, that is not the case.  It is hoped that this information will help empower parents and teenagers to make the right choices around alcohol.

As part of its commitment to provide alternative, alcohol-free activities for young people in the borough, for the CAP has also organised Manga drawing workshops, which promote alcohol awareness while giving the young people something new and interesting to be involved in during  the school holidays.

In 2016, Reading CAP was independently evaluated through Arcola Research. A summary of the evaluation can be read here.

The Reading Community Alcohol Partnership is clearly very active around the town and it’s good to hear that its multi-agency approach is aiming to tackle underage drinking through direct engagement with young people, enforcing the law with regard to underage consumption and proxy purchasing, and maintaining a constructive dialogue with businesses and retailers.

Rob Wilson MP
Reading East