The Code, backed by all sectors of the drinks industry, also has the support of Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland.
The Joint Industry Code for the Responsible Promotion and Retail of Alcohol in Northern Ireland (2012) applies to all suppliers and retailers of alcohol there. It’s hoped that compliance with the code – a self-regulatory measure introduced by the industry outlining the basic standards expected of those involved in the production, promotion, retailing and service of alcohol in Northern Ireland – will eventually become a condition of granting or renewal of both liquor and entertainment licences across Northern Ireland.
The Code, which also aims to address current NI attitudes and culture in terms of alcohol misuse and abuse, has been developed with the support of the Minister for Social Development Nelson McCausland who stated, “I have been concerned for some time about the way in which alcohol is promoted and marketed, in particular promotions involving very cheap alcohol and its availability to young people. I have been encouraged by the attitude of some of the bodies representing the drinks industry who have been working to develop this Joint Industry Code.
“I very much welcome the opportunity to work with the drinks industry to end irresponsible drinks promotions which encourage excessive consumption of alcohol.”
An independent complaints panel will oversee the implementation and enforcement of the Code chaired by former Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland and comprising a number of independent professionals with extensive knowledge and experience in the alcohol, health, education and enforcement sectors. The body will be responsible for the enforcement of the Code through handling complaints and carrying out investigations into any licensee deemed to be in breach of the terms of the agreement. The panel will make its findings publicly available and a statement will be issued to the press if it finds against a licensee.
“For some time we have been aware and shocked by the scenes of young people drinking to excess in towns and cities across Northern Ireland,” commented the Chair of the panel, former Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland, “The industry recognises that the time has come for action to be taken and they’re now leading the way in addressing the issue head-on through the new Code on drinks promotions. The success of the new Code lies in education and enforcement and the role of the independent complaints body will be vital in this. We want to make it clear that the Code is not an empty gesture and with the support of the Minister, local councils and police, any breach will have serious implications for licensees and the future of their business.”
The Code has been welcomed by the representative bodies of the drinks industries who’ve voiced their commitment to ensuring that licensees are fully aware of the new Code and the serious implications of breaching the agreement.
“We’ve been working very closely with the Minister for Social Development and The Joint Industry Working Group charged with developing the Code to move forward on the issue in order to bring an end to irresponsible practices across the industry,” stated Pubs of Ulster Chief Executive Colin Neill, “Pubs of Ulster has already conducted a number of workshops across Northern Ireland to brief the industry on the Code and the implications of any breach. As the representative body of the on-trade, we will be reiterating our zero tolerance approach to irresponsible practices and driving home the message that their licence could be in jeopardy if they engage in any form of irresponsible promotion.”
The Code will come into full effect from 1st September 2012. A copy of the Code can be found at www.responsibleretailingcodeni.org.