Shops and supermarkets to take strong drink off shelves

Supermarkets and off-licences are joining forces with council officials to tackle street drinking by taking super-strength lager and cider off their shelves.

Shops including Tesco, Waitrose, Budgens, Londis and Threshers have agreed to stop selling Carlsberg Special Brew, Tennent's Extra and Diamond White in an attempt to deter street drinkers and combat associated problems such as begging and drug dealing. The initiative by Westminster City Council in central London could be copied elsewhere.

"We should be treating the sale of alcohol in the same way we treat tobacco – with all the relevant pricing restraints and health warnings," said Sir Simon Milton, leader of Westminster council, and chairman of the Local Government Association. "The Government needs to get a proper handle on this and come up with a robust national policy to deal with what is a rapidly growing problem."

In addition to the voluntary restrictions on the sale of strong lagers and ciders, the council is using dispersal zones to stop people gathering in public places. It is enforcing a borough-wide controlled-drinking zone and confiscating alcohol from street drinkers.

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