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Alcohol and drugs

Alcohol and drug misuse can cause significant physical and psychological harm to the individual as well as friends, families and communities of those affected. Alcohol misuse is the biggest risk factor for death, ill-health and disability among those aged 15-49 in the UK. Drug misuse is also a significant cause of premature mortality in the UK.

Southampton has a significantly higher rate of alcohol-specific mortality than the national average, with the rate increasing in recent years. Between 2016-18 there were 103 deaths from alcohol-specific conditions in Southampton. Deaths from drug misuse in Southampton have experienced a decline in recent years, with the Southampton rate now similar to the national average. There were 37 deaths from drug misuse in Southampton during 2017-19.

Police recorded alcohol affected crime - rate per 1,000 population. Southampton wards 2019/20Alcohol and drug misuse also pose a burden and a threat to wider society through anti-social behaviour, crime and loss of productivity. The consumption of alcohol is related to criminal activity because its effects on the body reduce self-control, which leads to an increased likelihood that individuals under the influence of alcohol may engage in anti-social or criminal behaviour. The connection between illegal drug use and crime is reflected in several different types of crime, these include: the illegal possession, use, or sale of controlled substances; crimes committed to get money to buy drugs; crimes committed whilst under the influence of drugs; and organised criminal activities to support the drug trade.

It is estimated that alcohol is associated with one million crimes in the UK each year (Institute for Alcohol Studies). There were 2,615 alcohol affected crimes in Southampton over the last year, which is a -1.2% decline compared to the previous year. The majority (70%) of alcohol affected crimes in Southampton over the last year were violent crimes. Alcohol affected crime is strongly linked to the Night Time Economy (NTE). 42.8% of alcohol affected crimes occurred in Bargate or Bevois wards, which is where large portions of the night time economy in Southampton are located. Peak times for alcohol affected crime are late on weekends, which is when engagement with the NTE is highest.

Police recorded drug offences trend- rate per 1,000 population 2011/12 to 2019/20In the most recent year, there were 989 recorded drug offences in Southampton, a 37.4% increase compared to the previous year. The number of drug offences recorded by the police are heavily influenced by policing activities and priorities, which change over time. Over the last year there has been considerable focus on drug crime in Southampton, which explains the increase in the number of drug offences recorded over the last year. There is a strong link between drug offences and deprivation in Southampton, with the drug offence rate over six times higher in the most deprived neighbourhoods compared to the least deprived neighbourhoods.

An executive summary, slide set and data compendiums produced as part of the 2019/20 refresh and the full assessment from the previous year are available below. For more information on crime in Southampton, see the Safe City Strategic Assessment page.


2019/20 Safe City Strategic Assessment (refresh)

The Southampton Safe City Strategic Assessment provides an overview of current and future crime, disorder and community safety issues affecting Southampton and makes recommendations to enable the Partnership to focus the Safe City Strategy and local delivery plans. The executive summary, slide set and the data compendiums that informed the assessment are available below to download. It is recommended that products produced as part of the refresh are read alongside the most recent full assessment (2018/19), which is available below.

Safe City Strategic Assessment Executive Summary (2019/20)
pdf | 5MB | 24.11.20
Safe City Strategic Assessment Presentation (2019/20)
Slide set
pdf | 7MB | 24.11.20
Community Safety Offenders and Victims data compendium (2019/20)
xlsx | 44MB | 20.11.20
Community Safety Crime data compendium (2019/20)
xlsx | 35MB | 20.11.20

2018/19 Southampton Safe City Strategic Assessment (full)

Southampton Safe City Strategic Assessment 2018/19
pdf | 19MB | 18.12.19
Chapter 6.3 Alcohol and Drug Use
pdf | 3MB | 02.12.19

Other resources

Public Health England – Local Alcohol Profiles for England
Public Health England – Drug Indicator List
Rapid review of the evidence on peer-based harm reduction services for people who inject drugs
pdf | 1MB | 14.02.21

Last updated: 01 February 2021