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Alcohol self exclusion scheme launched

PUBLISHED: 08:51 19 November 2008 | UPDATED: 12:18 03 July 2010

Alcohol has long been seen as one of the root causes of violence, vandalism and domestic abuse.

But now an innovative project could see problem drinkers in Yarmouth tackle their alcohol misuse by demanding that they are no longer served drinks.

Alcohol has long been seen as one of the root causes of violence, vandalism and domestic abuse.

But now an innovative project could see problem drinkers in Yarmouth tackle their alcohol misuse by demanding that they are no longer served drinks.

The Count Me Out Alcohol Self Exclusion Program was launched yesterday and will see people banning themselves from buying or drinking beer and spirits in specified bars and stores in the resort and surrounding borough.

Nearly half the crime dealt with by Yarmouth police is directly related to alcohol abuse and 40pc of domestic abuse is associated with drink.

By voluntarily banning themselves from drinking it is hoped that it will help people begin to overcome their alcohol dependence.

The scheme, believed to be the first of its kind in the country, is the brainchild of Yarmouth-based PC Gary Pettengell, who in his role as domestic abuse officer has seen at first hand the horrors that alcohol can cause.

If any participants try to break their own drinking ban then they could be contacted by social workers, police or probation officials to see if they are having any difficulties in controlling their need for alcohol.

It may also help prisoners with alcohol problems who are released from jail and move back to Yarmouth.

So far the scheme has drawn support from four licensees, including the Long Bar and Rumbold Arms, and several other pubs and supermarkets, such as Tesco and Co-Op, have expressed an interest in the joining.

PC Pettengell said: “It has not been done before. We are really going to be under the spot light.

“But if you want to change society for the better then you have got to harness the power of whole community. That is why licensees are vital to this project.”

From today, anyone who wants to be self excluded for up to five years will be put on a computer database which can be accessed securely by any licensed premises and partnership agencies taking part.

People on the list can still enter pubs to have soft drinks or to play games but they must see a doctor before signing up.

Barry Austin, landlord of the St John's Head, attended yesterday's launch at the Carlton Hotel and said he would sign up to the exclusion plan.

He said: “I think it is a very good idea - as long as it remains voluntary.”

Insp Nick Russell, of Yarmouth police, said: “It is something that is going to benefit everyone in the community. I am very excited that it is starting in Yarmouth.”

PC Pettengell set up the scheme as part of his role in the social enterprise group empowering-communities.org and he hopes it can be extended across the rest of Norfolk.

Last year he launched a similar project to stop addictive gamblers ruining their lives and prevent the break up of their families. At the moment three people have agreed to voluntary bans at Yarmouth's 35 gambling premises.

For information on how to take part in the Count Me Out Alcohol Self Exclusion program visit www.edp24.co.uk/dailylinks


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