Nantes, France, 14 June 2013 – Ten European cities presented their recommendations for improving the prevention and management of binge drinking among young people in public spaces, and called for a balanced approach taking into consideration public health and public order, at a conference organised jointly by the European (Efus) and French Forum for Urban Security (FFSU), held in Nantes (France) on 13 and 14 June 2013.
During the final conference of the European project “Safer Drinking Scenes”, which drew 150 participants, the cities who were partners in this project called for integrated local prevention strategies, for responsible consumption and for better coordination between local, national and European authorities and stakeholders.
Managing night life in public spaces is a major challenge for a great number of European cities, notably those that have an important student population. The fact that binge drinking is a growing trend among young people poses threats to public health and security: risk of addiction and victimisation as well as public disorder. “We are concerned by the need to have a balanced response that takes into account the need to protect public health and maintain public order,” said Gilles Nicolas, Deputy Mayor of Nantes in charge of security and public peace, and Vice President of the European Forum for Urban Security.
In order to prevent risks and help stakeholders to better manage this phenomenon, the partners of the Safer Drinking Scenes project want to promote existing local initiatives, and recommend to take action at the local, national and European levels. A publication that will include their recommendations will be released in September 2013.
At the local level, cities are in favour of policies based on a balance between public health and public security, which include human presence on the ground, the implementation of prevention, mediation and risk-reduction actions, and regulation. They also encourage all night life stakeholders, including health and emergency services, to work locally in partnership.
European cities call for linking local policies with national policies, in particular in the areas of Youth and Education, in order to raise awareness among young people on the risks of binge drinking. They also call for a dialogue with the alcohol and retail sectors to discuss their participation in prevention programmes as well as their communication strategies. Furthermore, they call for a European debate on the legal age for alcohol consumption, and on the price of beverages. Lastly, cities advocate for the exchange of practices among local authorities.
“In line with our founding principle of cities helping cities, the SDS project enabled participants to build a common expertise and to share practices such as the Night Brigade deployed in La Rochelle, which is inspired by a similar initiative in Nantes,” said Efus Executive Director Elizabeth Johnston in her closing address.
Launched in 2011, the Safer Drinking Scenes (SDS) project, cofinanced by the European Commission, was coordinated by the French and European Forums for Urban Security (FFSU and Efus). It gathered ten European cities as partners -Liege, Antwerp (Belgium), Stuttgart (Germany), Bordeaux, Brest, La Rochelle, Nantes (France), Kingston-upon-Thames (UK), Reggio-Emilia (Italy) and Rotterdam (Netherlands)- as well as a committee of experts composed of Marie-Line Tovar, of the French Observatory on Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT); Dr. Laurent Karila, expert on addiction (France); Phil Hadfield, researcher at the University of Leeds (UK), and the Belgian Forum for Prevention and Urban Security.