The AGM of the Southampton Federation of Residents’ Associations on 8th July was followed by a question and answer session on anti-social behaviour. Mr John Heyworth, a consultant in the A & E Department at Southampton General Hospital said that since he last spoke to the Federation in March 2002, the problem had got worse and was no longer only at weekends but throughout the week. He was at a loss to know what to do about it.

Binge drinking is a peculiarity of UK culture. Councillor Mizon said they were trying to get some joined up thinking to deal with the problem. Although the number of people affected by alcohol was much greater than drugs, Mr Honey, the City Anti-Social Behaviour Manager, pointed out that the government gave them no money to deal with alcohol abuse; they were not allowed to use the drug abuse money for this purpose. From the audience, the licensee of the Hobbit said that because of the large number of licenced premises, there was a price war in the City and drink prices had come down. People drink as much as possible at a place where the drinks are cheap between 7 and 8 and then move on to where they are cheap between 8 and 9. A minimum pricing policy was needed.

Southampton North Neighbourhoods Partnership is making it a priority to target sales of alcohol to people underage and to stop adults buying alcohol for children who hang around outside the convenience stores.

Coucillor Mizon reported that the police had agreed to set up a dedicated anti-social behaviour squad of 8 officers.

Despite all that had been said, Mr Honey reaffirmed that Southampton was a relatively safe city and there was a need to dispel the fear of crime.

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