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Reducing violence risks by raising awareness


Commissioner Henry with partners in Newark market square

More than 550 people were spoken to as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of mixing cocaine and alcohol.

These substances, when combined in the body, create a chemical called cocaethylene, which can make people become violent and impulsive, as well as causing serious risks to their health.

Newark and Sherwood Neighbourhood Policing team joined forces with Newark and Sherwood District Council’s public protection team for five separate nights of action in Newark town centre to bring the issue to people’s attention and prevent the risk of harm.

The awareness of cocaethylene raised from 0% on the first night in December 2022 to a 15%on the latest night of action on 29 September.

A total of 553 people were engaged with, and 20 licensed premises were visited by a licensing officer who gave out posters and literature to display.

The nights of action have been funded through the Safer Streets scheme, which aims to make our public spaces safer by preventing neighbourhood crime and antisocial behaviour and violence against women and girls. This has been delivered in partnership between the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Nottinghamshire Police and Newark and Sherwood District Council.

Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry said: “I need to be honest in that I hadn’t heard about cocaethylene until very recently like a lot of people, but during the recent night of action it was brilliant to see so many people becoming educated about just how dangerous the combination of cocaine and alcohol can be.

“I’m glad that through Safer Streets we have been able to fund these educational evenings and help to increase awareness.

“I think the work that officers in Newark have been doing has changed minds thanks to those open an honest conversations, and although there is more to be done to reduce drug use and take illegal drugs off our streets, it’s important to keep the conversation going.”

The teams handed out educational leaflets, spread the word about the dangers of mixing the substances, and also invited the community to fill out a questionnaire about their knowledge of the severe consequences of taking both substances.

Cocaethylene is a dangerous chemical our bodies create when alcohol and cocaine are taken together.

This can have dangerous effects including:

  • An increase in violent and impulsive behaviours.
  • An increased chance of seizures, heart attacks, strokes, and liver damage.
  • Sudden death – death is 20 times more likely when mixing alcohol and cocaine than when using cocaine alone.
  • A decrease in sexual performance.

Inspector Charlotte Ellam, District Commander for Newark and Sherwood, said: “Working together with our partners on these nights of action is so important in highlighting the dangers of drug use, as we know how much of a devastating impact this can have on people’s lives.

“Mixing cocaine and alcohol together produces a chemical in the body known as cocaethylene. This can cause behaviours that may be out of character or exacerbated, such as violence and aggression, as well as posing a risk to the health of the user.

“Our officers have been out in the Newark night-time economy as part of the Safer Streets scheme to raise awareness about this issue and to hopefully make more people think twice before mixing these substances, either on a night out or anywhere else. We hope that having an understanding of the potential effects will enable people to safeguard themselves from being at risk either as a user, or a loved one who may be directly affected by these reactions.

“We regularly see the life-changing effects drugs can have on those who use them, with their resulting behaviour impacting the wider community too, which is why it is so important that we continue to do whatever we can to stop people falling into that trap and provide them with any support they need.

“Education is a key part of this, so we were pleased to be able to provide these nights of action, with the support of our partners, to raise conversations and awareness about this important topic.”

Councillor Paul Taylor, Portfolio Holder for Public Protection and Community Relations at Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: “Safer Streets is a fantastic example of partnership working at its best and the recent Nights of Action held as part of the project have demonstrated how important it is to raise awareness of the dangers of cocaethylene, and how vital it is that people are educated on the harm that can come from drug use.

“Not only is cocaethylene harmful to the health of the person drinking and using cocaine at the same time but it can also put the safety people around them at risk.

“I believe being educated about the harmful consequences of drug use is one of the ways we can encourage individuals to make informed decisions about their wellbeing and safety and ensure our district remains a welcoming place to live, work, and enjoy.

Posted on Monday 16th October 2023
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