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Digitally tackling binge drinking in London

Rates for alcohol-related hospital admissions have risen in London since 2006, according to data from the Department of Health, but a new digital tool that collects data on crime, ambulance call-outs and hospital admissions could help curb the harm caused by excessive drinking.

The tool was developed by the London Borough of Islington’s public health unit with help from the licensing team, the Safer Islington Partnership and the police. They are using it to systematically assess all licencing applications.

So far, evidence collected in this way has led to 13 alcohol licensing applications being turned down and two amended to reduce the hours of sale.

The initiative is one of a series of good practice case studies being released by London Councils to coincide with the first anniversary of public health responsibilities moving to local government.

Cllr Teresa O’Neill, executive member for health at London Councils, said: “While alcohol is a part of London’s vibrant night-time economy, we cannot underestimate the damage it does to families and communities, when abused.

“Drinking too much can have a devastating effect on health, contributing to cancer, hypertension, heart disease, liver disease, mental illness and death. It can lead to domestic and sexual violence and abuse, and costs the NHS millions in treatment.

Other pioneering projects spear-headed by London boroughs are a scheme in Merton where firefighters deliver stop-smoking advice; a bid to bring about a voluntary ban against cheap super-strength alcohol in Croydon; and a project in Wandsworth to promote smoke-free homes through parent champions.

Cllr O’Neill added:  “Islington’s approach shows how technology, data and good partnership working can be used in an effective way to tackle alcohol-related harm.”

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