Let’s work together

Now a firm fixture in the trade’s diary, the Responsible Drinks Retailing Conference and Awards, organised by Off Licence News and the Morning Advertiser, look to recognise best practice among both retailers and authorities.

A main thread running through the conference was how both the off and on-trade need to continue working together to tackle the complex issues around retailing drinks in a responsible way.

It was acknowledged there is a problem with the way some people behave when they’ve had too much to drink.

But it was also understood that the problem is unlikely to go away, which means it is the job of everyone involved in selling alcohol to understand how best to manage and minimise the problem.

Home office minister James Broken-shire also underlined this message when he told conference attendees: “The alcohol-retailing community has an essential part to play in reducing the problems caused by alcohol.”?He praised projects such as Community Alcohol Partnerships, the Proof of Age Standards Scheme and Pubwatch. He said: “These organisations aren’t controlled by central government, but they have had an impact on reducing alcohol- related crime and disorder.”?Chairman of Reading Pubwatch Bill Donne said the scheme worked best when the off and on-trade co-operated.

He said it was an “integral part of the local community” and had helped to contribute towards an 11% decline in violent crime in the city.

Philip Loring, from the Retail of Alcohol Standards Group, which is made up of retailers including convenience stores and supermarkets, said he was looking to extend the reach of Community Alcohol Partnerships to a national level. He explained how CAPs were all about sharing information between retailers, police and local authorities to try and prevent under-age sales.

Now in their seventh year, the RDR Awards recognise organisations and businesses that go the extra mile to make sure alcohol is sold in a responsible way and help to make their communities safer.

This year’s winners were selected for by a panel of judges who were impressed with their innovative projects.

Multiple Retailer of the Year: AsdaAsda put its money where its mouth is by allocating a £1 million social responsibility fund to help local projects, such as a community disorder bus in Glasgow. The supermarket has also teamed up with Diageo in a scheme to promote awareness of alcohol units, among other schemes to ensure customers are fully informed.

Local Authority of the Year: Cornwall CouncilJudges heard how Cornwall Council was addressing the serious problem of under-age drinking by involving the industry, such as through running alcohol-free events, and by seizing alcohol from children and their parents. The action has helped lead to a 43% reduction in crime.

Highly Commended: Watford Borough Council and Doncaster Council?Best Initiative of the Year: Wigan CouncilWigan Council offers its own Responsible Retailer Award with free practical training in dealing with issues such as under-age sales and proxy sales to children. It has received excellent feedback from licensees and the aim is to make the scheme borough-wide.

PASS Award for Best Practice on the Door: West Mercia Police, ShrewsburyThis police authority showed a commitment to target youngsters who try to buy alcohol illegally by using anti-fraud law, and its approach is being viewed as a model by the Home Office.

Highly Commended: Devon & Cornwall Police?Pubwatch of the Year: WinchesterThe judges praised the winner’s thoughtful and detailed entry, centred on an excellent licensee-driven scheme that receives strong partnership support. It has a good range of initiatives that address local issues – producing a short film for students, for example, about what the scheme does and how it works.

The Extra Mile Award (Retailer): The Co-op??The retailer was commended for engaging with its customers in innovative ways, such as by asking customers if they’ve heard of Drinkaware’s campaigns on its Chip & Pin machines, and using Twitter to deliver the message.

The Extra Mile Award (Supplier): Beverage BrandsJudges were particularly impressed with the way Beverage Brands put across sensible drinking messages in its own fun, quirky way.