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When I took the national policing lead for alcohol and licensing in September 2012, I was clear that the police service’s focus should not just be on licensing but on preventing and tackling the harm that alcohol can cause in society.

I recognise that alcohol can be beneficial for our wellbeing and community cohesion: sharing a drink with family, friends and neighbours in a pub, over dinner or at a summer BBQ is a social activity that has long been a part of British life.

However, alcohol also causes damage that we cannot ignore.Nearly 50 per cent of all violent crime is alcohol related. Drink related anti-social behaviour is the most common form that people experience.Offenders are thought to be under the influence of alcohol in nearly half of all incidents of domestic abuse and alcohol plays a part in 25-33 per cent of known child abuse cases. Excessive drinking clearly increases your likelihood of committing a crime or becoming a victim.

On April 30, I held a conference to share best practice and solutions to policing issues posed by alcohol.

Sue Robinson from Durham Constabulary presented work in the North East to measure the impact of alcohol on policing, which showed that officers see alcohol as a root cause for many of the problems that they have to deal with on a daily basis.86 per cent of the officers surveyed had been injured when dealing with someone who was drunk.Sue called for all forces to undertake similar research to find the true cost of alcohol on policing.

Bruce Ray from Carlsberg stated that it is both right and smart for the long term sustainability of industry to support solutions to alcohol harm.Bruce told the conference that the industry has committed to a five point plan, which includes looking at education, labelling, product formulation, local partnerships and drink awareness campaigns.

Alex Brewis, a peer mentor at Durham prison, told us his story of offending fuelled by alcohol addictions and how support from the HM Prison Durham Rolling Alcohol Programme helped him beat his addiction and move away from crime.His message to the conference was that offenders that have problems with alcohol need support and education from the criminal justice system to make changes.

We heard about Birmingham’s multi-agency alcohol strategy from Jacquie Kennedy from Birmingham City Council.The presentation demonstrated the value of partnership working, targeting hazardous drinkers and working with their families to provide support and help break the cycle of offending.

Superintendent Claire Bells from West Midlands Police updated the group on the experiences of several forces who have trialled data sharing with Accident and Emergency departments.Data from A&E departments will assist the police in targeting their resources, identifying crime hotspots, using licensing powers effectively and monitoring CCTV.Claire shared valuable lessons learnt from her force to assist other forces in developing effective data sharing agreements with the NHS.

DCI John Cushion from the Metropolitan Police informed the group about his approach to tackling rising alcohol related violence in the borough of Newham.John set up a crime reduction hub and used a combination of crime prevention design advice, licensing enforcement and business crime reduction to reduce alcohol harm in the community.

Inspector Dean O’Connor told us how Dorset Police have reduced the high level of alcohol related violence and sexual assault in Bournemouth town centre.The force has delivered training based on local events to students, bar staff and licensing boards.The aim of the training is to get each group to question whether they could have done something to prevent the crime.

All the force representatives went away with a range of ideas that could reduce harm caused by alcohol and promote responsible drinking.I will continue to drive forward this agenda supporting forces and working with our partners in government, local authorities, health and the alcohol industry to robustly tackle alcohol harm and prevent crime.

Adrian Lee is ACPO lead for the alcohol licensing and harm reduction working group, and the Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police.