A new partnership launches in York to tackle underage drinking

A Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP) was launched in York on Monday (12 April 2021) to highlight the risks of underage drinking and improve the health and wellbeing of local young people.

York Community Alcohol Partnership logo

CAPs are made up of partnerships between local authorities, police, schools, retailers, neighbourhood groups and health providers, working together to prevent alcohol-related harm to young people and improve the quality of life for residents. 215 schemes have now been launched across England, Scotland and Wales. 

In York, partners include North Yorkshire Police, City of York Council, Licensing, Youth Justice, Youth Commission, schools, alcohol retailers and community organisations.

The CAP will work with youth services and local organisations to provide alcohol-free activities for young people. It will also work with local schools to take a proactive approach to alcohol education and ensure that young people are equipped to make the right decisions about issues including alcohol and drugs and anti-social and criminal behaviour. Working with local retailers aims to help them avoid making underage sales and reduce ‘proxy’ sales where adults buy alcohol for under-18s.

The national CAP annual report, launched at the end of March, shows how this innovative partnership approach has brought significant reductions around the UK in alcohol supply to children, alcohol-related anti-social behaviour and underage street drinking.

Nationally, CAP evaluations for the period 2016-2020 show:

  • 61% average reductions in weekly drinking among 13-16 year olds
  • 99% of retailers passed Challenge 25 compliance test for alcohol sales
  • 86% of retailers did not sell alcohol when they suspected it was a ‘proxy’ sale
  • 50% reduction in young people hanging around shops and asking adults to buy alcohol for them
  • 42% reduction in youth alcohol-related anti-social behaviour

Derek Lewis, chair of Community Alcohol Partnerships, said: “I am delighted to see the launch of a CAP in York.  Underage drinking is associated with school and educational problems, unprotected sex, drug-taking, violence and drinking problems in later life. In just over a decade CAP has set up more than 200 partnerships around the UK and our evaluations show they are having a significant impact on reducing children’s alcohol consumption, improving their health and wellbeing and enhancing the communities where they live.”

Spark set to get government lifeline?

Containers arrived in Sept 2017

The controversial Sparks container village development on Piccadilly looks set to benefit from a government planning decision.

The temporary planning permission for the site – granted 3 years ago- included the following condition

This (approved) use (of the site) shall cease and all associated structures shall be removed from the site by 1 July 2020; unless prior to that date the consent of the Local Planning Authority has been obtained to extend the period of the permission

The containers should, therefore, by today have been off the site.

Officials at the Council have – not for the first time – failed to enforce the conditions attached to the planning permission.

They say that on 22nd June, the government issued a press release that stated

Sites with consent that have an expiry date between the start of lockdown and the end of this year will now see their consent extended to 1 April 2021”.

Officials go on to say, “At the time of writing (the planning report) the associated legislation regarding this is not yet in force (and consequently we do not know the details of this change). It is assumed this legislation will extend the lifetime of the existing permission into next year”.

Council planning officials go on to say,

However should this legislation not be in force by the time of committee, the recommendation will be approval subject to the legislation coming into force to automatically extend permissions that have expired during lockdown

The meeting is taking place (remotely) on 9th July. Background papers can be viewed by clicking this link

There are continuing concerns from neighbours about noise at the site while objections about the appearance of the  development also continue to be lodged.

Whether the managers of the site will be able to satisfy the conditions placed on an extended lease – which include financial sureties – remains to be seen.

Much of Sparks incomes derives from alcohol sales. The hospitality sector in York, and elsewhere, is facing a difficult 12 months.

Some sources speculate that as many as 40% of city centre cafes and bars may close unless there is an sustained (and unlikely) increase in visitor numbers.

We may, therefore, yet see the site become available for early redevelopment although major investments are going to be difficult to broker in the wake of the coronavirus crisis and the expected economic recession.

NB. The meeting is also being recommended to approve plans for a 168 bedroomed hotel on the other side of Piccadilly. Click

Go alcohol-free for Dry January 2019 says York Council

Another part of the Council says drink more water!

City of York Council is supporting calls for residents in the city to try having a Dry January in 2019 and enjoy the benefits from having a break from drinking.

A YouGov poll released this month has revealed that one in ten people who drink – an estimated 4.2 million people in the UK – are already planning to do Dry January in 2019.1 Dry January participants stop drinking alcohol for one month to feel healthier, save money and improve their relationship with alcohol long term.

Current low risk drinking guidelines say that men and women shouldn’t drink more than 14 units per week. If you do drink as much as 14 units, then it should be spread evenly across three or more days.

Dry January is run by the charity Alcohol Change UK.  Signing up for Dry January increases the chances of getting the most out of the month. You can download Try Dry: The Dry January App to track your units, money and calories saved, plus many more features. Or you can sign up at dryjanuary.org.uk for regular support emails with tips and tricks from experts and others like you.

In York 30 per cent of adults drink over the recommended 14 units of alcohol per week, compared to the England average of 26 per cent.

Taking part in Dry January helps people to drink more healthily year-round, according to independent research conducted by the University of Sussex with over 800 Dry January participants.2 It showed that Dry January participants were still drinking less in August:

  • Drinking days per week dropped on average from 4.3 to 3.3
  • Units consumed per drinking day on average from 8.6 to 7.1
  • Frequency of drunkenness on average from 3.4 per month to 2.1 per month.

For all of these measures, people who drank more riskily before Dry January saw bigger decreases in the amount and regularity of their drinking – suggesting that Dry January is particularly helpful for heavier drinkers.3

The research also showed that:

  • 93% of participants had a sense of achievement
  • 88% saved money
  • 82% think more deeply about their relationship with drink
  • 80% feel more in control of their drinking
  • 76% learned more about when and why they drink
  • 71% realised they don’t need a drink to enjoy themselves
  • 70% had generally improved health
  • 71% slept better
  • 67% had more energy
  • 58% lost weight
  • 57% had better concentration
  • 54% had better skin.

A poll found that 8% of UK adults are planning to do Dry January, or one in ten of those who drink.

If you drink very heavily or regularly Dry January may not be for you, so check with your GP or local alcohol service before you start. Where an individual is experiencing physical symptoms when they stop drinking (which may include but are not limited to: shakes, sweating, restlessness, insomnia, nausea, stomach cramps or hallucinations) they should seek medical help urgently.

The charity behind Dry January

Alcohol Change UK is the charity formed by the merger of Alcohol Concern and Alcohol Research. In addition to running Dry January, we work for a world free from alcohol harm. We fund, commission and share research; work to ensure more and better support and treatment; encourage better policy and regulation; shift drinking cultures through our campaigns; and work to change drinking behaviours by providing advice and information. Find out more.

How to sign up

People can sign up for Dry January at dryjanuary.org.uk, or by downloading the brand-new app Try Dry: The Dry January app via the App Store or Google Play. People who sign up to Dry January are more likely to make it through to the end of the month without drinking. They get access to support, tips and tricks, and more. The app allows people to track their units, calories and money saved not drinking, plus track their drinking year-round.


Stag Parties, Hen Parties now oldie parties set to hit New Earswick?

An application by JRHT to modify the license that they have for the sale of alcohol at Hartrigg Oaks elderly persons complex has run into opposition.

First the Police objected, then an action group of over 80’s declared the plan to be contrary to Quaker traditions.

The proposal is to permit the sale of alcohol to non-residents from 11:00 to midnight, Monday to Sunday.

Residents can buy and consume alcohol at any time.

A licensing committee will hear next week that some residents fear that the Trust intend to open up their on-site restaurant to casual users.

The Trust have denied this

A large number  of residents have written to support the  licence application

So is alcohol fuelled violence getting out of hand in York City centre

With seemly daily reports in the media about drunken behavior and violence in York city centre, what are the actual crime statistics for the area within the inner ring road?

Fortunately they are readily available on the Police UK web site

The latest monthly figures available cover the month of March.

Distribution of crimes

There were 448 crimes reported in March. The majority of these were for anti social behavior,violence and shop lifting.

It was a similar picture during the previous 12 month period

Crime type Total Percentage
Anti-social behaviour 2373 43.68%
Violence and sexual offences 790 14.54%
Shoplifting 649 11.95%
Other theft 419 7.71%
Bicycle theft 340 6.26%
Criminal damage and arson 220 4.05%
Theft from the person 173 3.18%
Public order 153 2.82%
Burglary 120 2.21%
Drugs 83 1.53%
Vehicle crime 41 0.75%
Other crime 35 0.64%
Possession of weapons 19 0.35%
Robbery 18 0.33%

Crime levels usually increase in the summer when larger numbers of people visit the City. Officials will be looking anxiously at the figures for April and May, when any adverse trends may become clearer

What happens to these arrested?

Some go to court, but most do not!

So who is responsible?

Many of the crimes are fuelled by alcohol.

Here the City Council must take some of the responsibility.

They have cheerfully nodded through more and more licensing applications and have even given planning permission for new premises such as the arts barge whihc will have a bar. They have been recommended to allow up to 5 new licensed premises at the shipping container village which is to be located near the Walmgate trouble blackspot.

Not all licensed premises contribute to the problems but it would be reasonable to ask all four candidates in the forthcoming general election what they want to see done to reassure residents that parts of the City centre are not becoming a “no go zone” during parts of the day.

Help Shape York’s Alcohol Strategy

DrunksCity of York Council along with other partners are seeking views on a new city-wide alcohol strategy for York.

It is hoped that the strategy will influence more people to be aware of how to drink responsibly and to make positive lifestyle choices around alcohol so that individuals use alcohol safely and sensibly.  In addition it is hoped that people will make informed choices about drinking alcohol and approach the issues that alcohol can bring within our communities and families in a positive way.

The York alcohol strategy has been written by colleagues from City of York Council; Public Health England; Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group; Safer York Partnership; Lifeline; North Yorkshire Police; York Hospital Trust.  The strategy covers a five year time period and York’s Health & Wellbeing Board will be responsible for it.

The city currently uses a large amount of resource to deal with alcohol related issues, like the harm that alcohol has on the health and wellbeing of people and the crime and disorder it contributes to.  The ambulance service, the hospital’s emergency department, police, fire service and members of the public routinely deal with the consequences of alcohol.

Harm to families including domestic violence, child abuse and neglect as well as violent crime, binge drinking, absenteeism from work and lost productivity, drink driving, alcohol related accidents and anti-social behaviours such as public urination, litter and vomit on our streets are all issues associated with alcohol.

The alcohol strategy has four aims:

More restrictions on York City centre pub hours?

It could become more difficult for pubs and clubs in York to extend their opening hours in future.

Crime trends in York alcohol zone - report extract April 2016

Crime trends in York alcohol zone – report extract April 2016

The police have asked the York Council to crack down on premises within the cumulative impact zone (essentially the City centre) which seek longer opening hours.

The move comes against a background of increasing violence and disorder on some City centre streets.

The restrictions would affect any premises wanting to extend their hours to open beyond 11:00pm and also any licences seeking an overall increase in opening hours each day.

A report will be considered by the Council on 25th April. If approved the proposal will be subject to public consultation.

National recognition for police responsible drinking campaign


An innovative campaign which tackles the negative impacts of excessive alcohol consumption has been shortlisted for a national award.
Alternate campaign launch in Selby

North Yorkshire Police’s Alternate campaign asks people to think carefully about the effects of their drinking, with a series of hard-hitting videos showing the risks and unintended consequences of drinking too much.

The five films were premièred in Selby in September 2015, shown on a large video van at the town’s Market Cross. Posters and credit-card sized ‘app cards’ featuring links to web content were distributed at licensed premises across the town.

All the films are also available to watch on North Yorkshire Police’s YouTube channel, http://tinyurl.com/alternatevid, and on a new website www.alternatedrinking.org. They were most recently used to promote national Alcohol Awareness Week 2015, which ran from Monday 16 November.

Groves alcohol issue set to be discussed next week

Area could get City’s first Public Space Protection Order

Following a petition organised by local residents the Council, is to discuss next week the action that it needs to take to address anti social behaviour activities in the Groves area.

The Council says that it is “currently working on the process for the PSPO of which public consultation is an important part. Public meetings are planned to take place which will including the local residents association”.

The governments, public spaces protection orders are intended to deal with a particular nuisance or problem in a particular area that is detrimental to the local community’s qualify of life, by imposing conditions on the use of that area which apply to everyone. The order could also be used to deal with likely future problems.

It’s enough to drive you to a summit!

There has been a lot of talk over the last few weeks of declining standards of behaviour on York’s’ City centre streets.new_years_drunk_5

Much of the decline has been put down to excessive alcohol consumption.

Some blame changes to the licensing laws which allow pubs and clubs much longer opening hours than were common 25 years ago.

It appears that the Licensing committee has failed to get tough with breaches of licensing conditions (selling alcohol to those who are already drunk) although alcohol consumption on City Centre streets and parks is now banned. Those making representations to the committee against extended alcohol sales are usually ignored.

If York has enough outlets with licenses to sell alcohol – and it certainly appears to – then a presumption against increasing the number might be a start. But a drift towards 1920’s style Prohibition is not a palatable solution in a modern liberal society.

Individuals must take responsibility for their own actions.

Others blame the Council which appears to have imperceptibly changed its marketing strategy from “a City of Festivals” to “Party City” over the last few years

What the debate lacks is facts.

Just how many reports of drunken behaviour, and arrests for alcohol related offences, have taken place over the months and years and how does this compare to similar City’s elsewhere?

Are those responsible locals? Is it a relatively small number of individuals involved on a recurring basis?

What options are available?

The Council Leaders fail safe solution to any difficult problem is to call a “summit”.

Although those attending any such conference might get a warm (non alcoholic) glow from attending and exchanging opinions it will have little practical effect if research and public consultation is not undertaken first.

Cooler weather (and tempers) may buy the City a few months grace during which an anti alcohol abuse strategy can be developed.

NB. The Council has today published a study which claims that alcohol fuelled problems have reduced over the last 3 years. It claims that fewer people attending A&E are drunk!