Drink-drivers will be sent to the classroom

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A scheme has been launched in East Sussex to try to get those who commit alcohol-related crime to cut their drinking.

The initiative gives those who are dealt with for minor offences involving alcohol to go on a course where they are taught the impact of drink on them and those around them.

It also aims to give them the confidence to look at their drinking habits so they can work towards reducing the amount they drink.

The scheme is led by Sussex Police and Action for Change and is supported by East Sussex County Council and the NHS.

Action for Change is funded by the county council and NHS to deliver a community alcohol team service for East Sussex.

Offenders issued with a fixed penalty notice or who agree to take part in community resolution after committing alcohol-related crimes will be offered the chance to go on a course.

Currently an offender will be issued with an £80 fixed penalty notice although this will rise to £90 on Monday, July 1.

Under the scheme the crime will still be recorded against the offender but the fixed penalty notice will be reduced to £40 and will be used to fund the course.

Inspector Rosie Ross, from Sussex Police’s Licensing Enforcement Team, said: “This scheme is great news for the communities of East Sussex.

“Binge drinking and crime associated with this is an increasing problem in the UK. Not only can it lead to criminality but can expose people to vulnerability and the personal costs of excessive binges can be life changing.

“The alcohol diversion scheme aims to reduce crime, disorder and antisocial behaviour, and to help people feel less vulnerable, by providing an effective intervention programme to educate and inform people to change their behaviour.

“The scheme has been shown to reduce offending and combat alcohol-related crime in other parts of the country.”

Courses are being offered in Eastbourne and Hastings currently, but they could be launched in other areas of East Sussex if there is demand for them.

John Reading, the chief executive of Action for Change, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer this scheme as part of our work tackling alcohol-related antisocial behaviour and helping to reduce health harm caused by excessive alcohol use.

“The course is self funding which places no additional burden on the taxpayer which is very good news in these tough economic times.”

For information on the scheme visit www.action-for-change.org.