Police crackdown as violent crimes surge
New campaign highlights and targets the ‘demons’ released through binge drinking.
AN increase in violent crime in North Devon has sparked the launch of a new police campaign to crack down on binge drinking.
Violent crimes with injury, which account for around 70 different offences, have risen by more than 10 per cent in the last three months.
Partnership and community safety sergeant Mark Harper said the ‘don’t let drink unleash your demon’ campaign would target young men and women to remind them of the darker side of binge drinking and help slash the rise in drink-fuelled offences.
“We have had all these good years of low crime, and now there is a rise in violent offences. People have got to take responsibility for their own behaviour,” said Sgt Harper.
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“There will be a much greater police presence on the streets and we will not tolerate any disorderly behaviour.
“The trick to avoid the violence is to get the people who are drunk and disorderly out of the area before their behaviour worsens.
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“If we can get to them early we can bring down the amount of offences and subsequently reduce the amount of victims.
“If we get repeat offenders we are going to visit them the next morning and any escalation in their behaviour could result in them being banned from the town.”
Sgt Harper said the idea followed feedback from regretful drinkers who reported ‘losing it’, having ‘no idea what came over me’ and claimed ‘drink seems to turn me violent’.
The campaign will be supported by banners, posters and beer mats in licensed premises across North Devon from Friday.
The storyboard posters will show the progress of a night out, and how a drink can ‘unleash the demons’, leading to the possibility of a night behind bars, a criminal record, and even losing a job, driving licence or partner.
Sgt Harper added: “As well as offences like GBH and assault, a third of all violence with injury crimes involve domestic violence.
“It’s a very hard thing to tackle because we have to get into people’s homes and encourage people to report these crimes, which they are doing more and more.
“But we have recently got a lot more security equipment to protect victims, such as cameras to provide better evidence when it comes to conviction.”
Michele Slevin, local policing area commander for North and West Devon, said: “Alcohol related violence and antisocial behaviour are two of the most prevalent issues communicated to us from our public.
“We have listened to those concerns and together with our partners, we have developed this initiative to ensure our confidence and satisfaction levels remain high and violence with injury is the lowest in Devon and Cornwall.
“Our aim is to see people having a safe and enjoyable night out and not one that ends with a negative experience that could ruin their lives.”
The campaign has been supported by Safer North Devon as well as both councils, who will be displaying storyboards across their waste disposal lorries.