Binge drinking in Stevenage is a ‘real concern’

BINGE drinking and alcohol-related crime in Stevenage are of ‘real concern’, according to NHS Hertfordshire.

Research released by the North West Public Health Observatory at Liverpool John Moores University has revealed that of the country’s 326 local authorities, only 32 have a bigger problem with binge drinking than Stevenage.

More than a quarter - 25.7 per cent - of adults in the town are binge drinkers, drinking at least twice the recommended daily limit of alcohol of four units for men and three for women.

This is compared to a regional average of 18.2 per cent.

With 22.7 per cent of adults binge drinkers, North Herts is ranked 254 out of the 326 local authorities nationally, with one having the least problem and 326 the greatest.

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Central Beds comes in at 145, with 18.7 per cent of adults binge drinkers in the area.

Stevenage is also one of the worst areas in the country for recorded alcohol-related crimes, ranked 251 out of the 326 local authorities.

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The picture is even worse for violent-specific crimes fuelled by alcohol, with Stevenage ranked 271.

Dr Raymond Jankowski, NHS Hertfordshire’s deputy director of public health, said: “There are some areas of real concern which the local NHS and its partners are working hard to address.”

In contrast, North Herts and Central Beds register low levels of alcohol-related crime, ranked 65 and 79 respectively, and ranked 59 and 42 respectively for violent-specific crime linked to alcohol.

Counsellor Janis Feely is the founder of addiction treatment centre The Living Room in The Glebe in Stevenage. She says she sees children as young as 13 with alcohol dependency, but that it affects all ages.

“Alcohol has always been the biggest problem,” she said.

“Happy hours and cheap booze – I think it’s all outrageous – and you can buy booze at all hours.

“If it went back to the old times of pubs closing at 11pm, that would be a good thing, and booze should belong in booze shops and not in supermarkets. It’s the availability which is the problem.”

Ms Feely says she regularly sees cases where alcohol addiction has fuelled domestic violence or led to child neglect.

“Noboby’s really looking at the problem or the damage done to families,” she said.

Alcohol misuse is estimated to cost the NHS �2.7 billion a year.

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