As safe as we all make it

Big Drink Debate

The big drink debate is the biggest survey of its kind. It was completed by more than 30,000 people across the North West. Here is a summary of the key findings from both the North West and Wigan perspectives.

The survey asked respondents their opinions on what impact alcohol can have on both individuals and the communities they live in.

North West

General issues

  • In terms of demographics, 57% of respondents were female, 33% were male and 10% did not state their gender.
  • 23% of respondents had not drunk alcohol in the last week (including 9% who never drank).
  • 22% had drunk at hazardous levels in the last week, while 6.6% has drunk at harmful levels.
  • Type of alcohol consumed was linked to gender and income.
  • Male drinkers consumed on average 23 units per week (including 14 units of beer/larger/cider and 5.4 units of wine).
  • Female drinkers consumed on average 12 units (the majority of which was wine, 7 units)

Where alcohol was purchased and reasons for consumption

  • Most drinkers purchased alcohol from the supermarket (71% of hazardous drinkers, 68% of harmful drinkers and 64% of sensible drinkers).
  • 73% of those buying from supermarkets said they did so to help them to relax and unwind.
  • 45% of drinkers bought alcohol from pubs. This rose to 53% among hazardous drinkers and 56% among harmful drinkers.
  • 18% of drinkers used off licences. Again, this rose to 34% among hazardous drinkers and 37% among harmful drinkers.

Community perceptions

  • 11% of respondents thought that drugs were responsible for more deaths that alcohol (in fact, alcohol is related to far more deaths than illegal drugs)
  • Those aged between 18 and 24, aged 65 and over or who were harmful drinkers were most likely to hold these views.
  • 75% of respondents expressed concerns over children drinking in public
  • 72% of respondents expressed concern over the drunken behaviour of others.
  • 45% of respondents avoided town centres at night because of drunkenness

What increases consumption of alcohol?

  • 80% of respondents thought that low prices and discounts increased consumption.
  • 75% of respondents felt that large measures increased consumption.
  • 68% of respondents felt that allowing street drinking increased consumption.
  • 56% of respondents felt that advertising increased consumption.
  • 54% of respondents felt that extended drinking hours increased consumption.


There were 891 respondents from Wigan.

General Issues

  • 14.2% of respondents from Wigan stated that they were non-drinkers (11.2% for north west)
  • 60.3% of respondents were recognised as sensible drinkers (61.7% for north west).
  • 19.6% of respondents were recognised as hazardous drinkers (20.4% for north west)
  • 5.9% of respondents were recognised as harmful drinkers (6.4% for north west).
  • Wigan had the 7th highest number of respondents who were none drinkers (35 local authorities).

What increases consumption of alcohol?

  • 75.6% of respondents felt that large measures increases alcohol consumption (75.1% for north west)
  • 80.8% of respondents felt that low prices and discounts increase alcohol consumption (80.5% for north west).
  • 51.7% of respondents felt that extending licensing hours increases alcohol consumption (55.2%)
  • 72.8% of respondents felt that allowing street drinking increases alcohol consumption (68.6% north west).

Community perceptions

  • 44.6% of respondents avoided the town centre at night because of drunken behaviour (47% for north west).
  • 55.1% of respondents felt that action was needed to tackle alcohol-related behaviour (50.2% for north west).
  • 74% of respondents were concerned by the drunken behaviour of others (72.6% for north west).
  • 80.3% of respondents felt that children drinking in public was a concern (75.2% for north west).
  • Wigan has the 5th highest percentage of respondents who feel children drinking in public is a problem (35 local authorities).

Non drinkers answered 'never' to the question 'in general, how often do you drink'.

Sensible drinkers drank at or under the recognised level in the previous week (21 units for males, 14 units for females).

Hazardous drinkers drank above the recognised sensible levels in the previous week (between 22 and 50 units for males, 15 to 35 units for females).

Harmful drinkers drank at a level that is recognised to cause harm (over 50 units for males, over 35 units for females)

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