Booze costing us £43 million

Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick (right) at a community engagement event in Spalding with 'PCSO Lisa Waterfall, Arkadiusz Lkuza, Angelika Kryiak and young Michal Wojtowocz.  Photo by Tim Wilson.
Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick (right) at a community engagement event in Spalding with 'PCSO Lisa Waterfall, Arkadiusz Lkuza, Angelika Kryiak and young Michal Wojtowocz. Photo by Tim Wilson.
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About 800 hardcore drinkers in Lincolnshire are costing the county’s taxpayers a staggering £43 million a year, new figures have revealed.

Mental health, family, probation and adult care services across Lincolnshire’s seven district council areas are bearing the brunt of the bill, according to the charity Alcohol Concern which is behind a new project aimed at “change-resistant” drinkers.

The Blue Light Project, named after emergency services that use blue lights on their vehicles, is to start next month at a cost of just £75,000 shared equally between Lincolnshire County Council and the Office of Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick.

Hayley Child, substance misuse strategy coordinator at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “So far, over 150 professionals have been trained across Lincolnshire, including police, PCSOs, children’s services staff and street pastors, with training having taken place in Spalding, Boston, Skegness, Sleaford, Grantham and Lincoln.

“There will be two countywide outreach workers who will help the top ten Blue Light clients with the greatest amount of police incidents related to their alcohol misuse.

“The Blue Light Project will be fully live in September when the first engagement groups will have started taking place and the outreach workers will begin working with clients.”

Speaking to the Guardian on Tuesday, Mr Hardwick said: “I knew there was a problem with drinkers who were change-resistant, but I was shocked when I realised how much it was costing the county’s taxpayers.

“It’s a ground-breaking project, a first for Lincolnshire and when it’s up and running, I wouldn’t know of a project to have been launched that is as large-scale as this.”