September 28th, 2012Comment
I pick up the i most days from the corner shop. Sometimes I treat myself to a cold can of Orangina (rock and roll I know).
The corner shop survives on booze and fags primarily: the cheapskates like me who nip in to use Collect+ and grab a tin of beans would barely keep the shop standing without the queue for wine, spirits and Super Kings.
Yesterday’s i – picked up alongside Space Raiders and fizzy pop for a lazy evening on the sofa – caught my attention with a story entitled “Ipswich launches push to ban super-strength booze”.
“Off licence owners in Ipswich are being asked to remove strong beers and ciders from their shelves in an effort to tackle alcohol abuse”.
Ok, so high strength booze linked to abuse of alcohol. Discuss. 1) Cause and effect – did the high strength booze cause the abuse or did the abuse lead to a desire for a high strength fix? That aside, if we assume high strength booze sold cheaply is a contributing factor, why are beer and cider the victims?
Alcohol can play a catalyst role in crime but what of pocket sized bottles of whisky and hip flask style bottles of vodka available behind the Tesco or McColl’s counter alongside cancer sticks and lethal doses of paracetamol. In the queue at my corner shop some cans of Kestrel sit in the fridge, but for the price of 3 or 4 tinnies you can grab a reasonable sized bottle of unknown vodka and a penknife to carry in your pocket.
The article continues:
“The town has seen four street drinkers murdered in the last three years and police say the scheme could not only help those who depend on alcohol but also the wider community and those tasked with clean-up operations.~”
So, hang on. Are you saying that cans of beer murdered four people in three years?
Before we condemn the campaign – in fact it may have merit and may work – we can’t help but feeling it’s a case of making a song and dance about an easy target, social green washing to appease local fury. Will banning high strength beer and cider save society? No. Will it help maybe? Will it kerb the demand for booze? Will people simply find an alternative?
What puzzles us is why Ipswich has picked on beer and cider as the root cause of murder and violence. Whilst I’m not likely to kick up much fuss about White Ace or Frosty Jack’s disappearing from the shelves of Suffolk supermarkets, we’re scratching our heads over the somewhat simplistic solution to problems arising from much more complex social issues. As per usual, the headlines simply shout “Beer is bad”.
The Guardian adds a greater back story to the campaign, explaining in more detail that the emphasis is on the ban forming part of an initiative to make the streets safer and reduce the number of deaths associated with people living and drinking heavily on the streets. Unfortunately beer and cider are still the bad guys, despite many of the interviewees naming stag dos, unemployment and homelessness as contributing factors that create the market for cheap booze.
Andrew Mason of Ipswich police says “This campaign aims to take the problem away at the source.” Despite its well intentioned efforts, that’s exactly what the campaign fails to do.Tags: binge, binge drinking, ipswich, police, suffolk