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New scheme could help tackle serious alcohol-related crime in Norfolk and Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 08:00 27 July 2013

Prince of Wales Road. Photo: Simon Finlay.

Prince of Wales Road. Photo: Simon Finlay.

Archant é 2005

Police looking to prevent alcohol-fuelled late night violence in Norwich and other parts of the county say a new course could help them reduce the numbers of people seriously injured or even killed on our streets.

From last night, drunk and disorderly people in Norfolk and Suffolk are being offered the chance to go on a course which educates them about the harmful effects of alcohol, rather than pay an on-the-spot £90 fine.

Low level offenders will be given the chance to enrol on the drink awareness course, which will cost them £45, as part of the Alcohol Diversion Scheme.

But as well as offering a new way of dealing with minor offences, it is hoped the three-hour course, which has already been run successfully by police in Devon and Cornwall, Derbyshire and Hertfordshire, will play a key part in stopping serious alcohol-related crime on our streets.

Nick Dean, temporary assistant chief constable for Norfolk police, said: “In the short-term it prevents low level disorder out on the street and, more importantly, it gives the person an opportunity to reflect, when they get on the course, about their behaviour.”

Mr Dean said that although there was no evidence to suggest that anyone involved in low-level disorder would go on to commit high level violence, he said very often the most serious cases of violence on the streets were just “one-off incidents”.

Often the perpetrator is not a prolific offender but just someone who has been out and has got involved in an incident, for no apparent reason, and it is proof that just one punch can cause someone really serious injury and alter the rest of their life forever.

Mr Dean said: “If we can capture that early, when they’ve been involved in low level disorder, it may well re-educate them to stop that later on and prevent that person becoming involved in a one-off incident that will alter the course of their life forever.” He added: “I’m confident as a result that this scheme will have a long-lasting and positive impact for communities across the county.”

The project, which has been backed by Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner Stephen Bett, is offered by the charity Druglink and sees offenders take part in a workshop aimed at tackling crime and reducing re-offending by encouraging people to be more responsible for their actions.

Augustine Pereira, a consultant in public health medicine at Norfolk County Council, said: “Supporting people to make positive changes to their drinking habits is not only good news for their wellbeing, it also has knock-on benefits for the whole community.”

Sgt John Dodman, from Suffolk police, said: “What they found is that once people understand the full implications of their behaviour and how it affects them and the rest of the community, they have changed their ways.”

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