Govt hires Forster for alcohol misuse task

The Government has drafted in PR agency support to promote the nationwide police crackdown on binge drinking and violent behaviour associated with it.

The Home Office has signed up public sector specialist The Forster Company following a three-way pitch with other agencies on the COI roster.

The agency is promoting the Home Office’s National Alcohol Misuse Enforcement Campaign, which has been designed as part of the Prime Minister’s Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy, launched in March in response to growing ministerial concern about binge drinking and anti-social behaviour.

The three-month appointment comes as the Home Office reports soaring levels of violent crime, with 44 per cent of incidents blamed on alcohol misuse. More than 70 per cent of hospital A&E admissions over weekends are caused by binge drinking, according to government statistics.

Forster Company account director Amanda Duffy said: ‘It is part of reassuring the public that the police are very active and reinforcing the partnership work between people such as police and trading standards. Everyone is coming together to make sure that the issues are tackled, which is one of the key messages.’

The agency will work with 15 Basic Command Centres (BCC). The 15 BCCs were selected by the Home Office depending on which region needed additional PR support. BCCs deemed to be showing success with particular schemes were also picked.

Duffy said: ‘There are areas that have a particular problem or are doing something well, such as working with licensees that operate doorman registration.’

As well as helping police forces run their own PR campaigns, The Forster Company will produce a good-practice toolkit. Activity will include media relations, and liaison with the drinks industry.

Off-licences, bars and clubs will be named and shamed if they are found to be selling alcohol to under-18s and the police will issue fixed penalties to the drunk and disorderly.

Urban centres, particularly on Thursday to Sunday evenings, are most affected by binge drinking.

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