Alcohol Harm: Reducing the Strength in Plymouth

Reducing the Strength in Plymouth aims to reduce availability of low cost, high percentage lager and cider often linked with crime.

Reducing the Strength in Plymouth aims to reduce availability of low cost, high percentage lager and cider often linked with crime.

A new project is being launched this week to help reduce alcohol related harm in Plymouth.

Reducing The Strength is a new scheme which aims to encourage retailers to stop selling very cheap, high percentage lagers, beers and ciders, in their shops, which should contribute towards reducing alcohol related crime and health costs in the city.

A launch event for Reducing the Strength takes place at the Plymouth Albion grounds on Friday 3rd October from 10am to 12pm.

The scheme is a joint initiative between Plymouth City Council, Shekinah Mission, Harbour Centre (Plymouth), Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, Plymouth Herald, Safer Plymouth, Northern Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, and Devon & Cornwall Police. It forms part of Plymouth’s five year Alcohol Strategy.

John Hamblin, Chief Executive of Shekinah Mission, the charity which provides support to vulnerable adults in Plymouth, said: “On a daily basis Shekinah witnesses the devastating impact that alcohol abuse has not only on individuals, but also on families and the local community. Whilst there is no simple answer to this, removing from sale, low cost high strength alcohol would be small step in the right direction.”

“One single 500ml can of 9% super strength lager contains four and a half units of alcohol – clearly exceeding the Government’s daily recommended safe alcohol limit for men and women.  In some shops these are being sold for £1.”
Chief Superintendent Andy Boulting, Plymouth Police Commander, said: “I fully support this positive initiative and encourage all city retailers to participate.

“Alcohol misuse is a massive problem for the health and safety of those consuming excessive alcohol or alcohol of excessive strength. The impact is also devastating for the families, children and communities affected. We know that this ruins lives and is too often the cause of crime and antisocial behaviour.

“Working together to reduce the levels of consumption through the responsible restriction on the availability of low cost super strength alcohol is to be welcomed and championed.”

Councillor Sue McDonald, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Public Health at Plymouth City Council, said: “The key drivers for Reducing the Strength, are to address health harms and the disproportionate impact on the most deprived individuals and communities, and to address crime and disorder and public nuisance in certain areas of the city.”

Dr Kelechi Nnoaham, Director of Public Health for Plymouth City Council added:

“In Plymouth the number of people being admitted to hospital because of alcohol has been increasing year on year.

“In 2012/13 there were 5,451 hospital admission episodes due to alcohol. It is estimated that the cost to the health system in Plymouth is around £9.5m every year.

“The statistics are shocking. But as a local retailer, the good news is there is something you can do about it.

“We would urge local retailers to come and join us at our launch event on Friday. We can make a difference to the health and wellbeing of people in Plymouth.

“This is only one measure and we will need to continue to do other work such as providing alcohol education in schools, working with bars and clubs to promote responsible drinking, and providing support and treatment to those who need it.”

The event is open to all or for more information go to


Notes to editors:


The recommended guidance on drinking suggests that:

  • Men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day
  • Women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units a day

“Regularly” means drinking this amount every day or most days of the week.

Priorities for Plymouth’s Alcohol Strategy include:

  • Reduce the rate of alcohol attributable hospital admissions
  • Reduce levels of harmful drinking by adults and young people
  • Reduce alcohol related violence
  • Reduce anti-social behaviour
  • Reduce the number of children affected by parental alcohol misuse