Preventing abuse, saving money

CCB

 

Posted in: Analysis/Comment, Employees, Speaking Out

Preventing abuse, saving money

December 01, 1998

ANTI DRUGS INITIATIVE

McDonald’s and Sainsbury’s are among companies represented on the steering group of the new Business in the Community Partnership Against Drugs, launched by the Cabinet Office minister, Jack Cunningham MP, on October 20. The UK anti-drugs co-ordinator, Keith Hellawell, was among the speakers at a seminar to discuss a range of business-led anti drugs initiatives at local and national level. Royal and Sun Alliance community affairs manager, Eric Weatherall, has been seconded to run the initiative, which will build on work already being done by companies like Marks and Spencer, Boots and Proctor & Gamble. A booklet with further details is available. Contact Sarah Paltenghi, BITC, on 0171 224 1600

COST OF MISUSE

Drink and drug misuse costs employers an estimated £3 billion a year, according to figures presented by Alcohol Concern to a joint conference between the charity, the TUC and the Institute for the Study of Drug Dependence on October 12. One in four workplace accidents involves workers who have been drinking, with up to 14 million working days lost each year in the UK through alcohol misuse. Three in four people with alcohol problems and one in four of those looking for help with a drug problem are estimated to be in employment. Contact Lee Lixenberg, Alcohol Concern, on 0171 928 7377

INCREASED SUBSTANCE ABUSE

The incidence of alcohol and drug abuse at work is rising, according to research published by the Institute of Personnel and Development on November 16. Based on responses from 1,800 personnel professionals, the IPD says nearly half (46%) of firms have received reports of alcohol misuse by staff in the last year – an increase of 11% since 1996. Illegal drug taking affects almost one in five firms (18%). Just over half (51%) say they give time off for alcohol rehabilitation, although a smaller proportion do likewise for drug rehabilitation (38%) – dismissal being the more likely outcome.

The IPD wants to see employers adopting more policies to raise employee awareness through education programmes about the health and safety risks, as well as more encouragement to seek counselling. It also supports employers who test staff working in safety sensitive jobs, locations or industries. Contact Memuna Forna, IPD, on 0181 263 3251

YOUTH CRIME REDUCTION

Youth Works, a partnership between Marks & Spencer, the environmental regeneration organisation, Groundwork, and Crime Concern has been highly successful in reducing youth crime in a pilot project in Blackburn, according to figures released by the Home Office on October 13. Youth crime was cut by 35% in the target area, along with cuts of up to 70% in neighbouring areas. The scheme works by involving disaffected young people in environmental projects, providing training and improving job prospects. The project is now being extended through a Lottery grant to three more estates in East Lancashire. Contact Graham Duxbury, Groundwork, on 0121 236 8565

CRIME PREVENTION AWARDS

A Neighbourhood Watch scheme in Wrexham was the overall winner of the 1998 CGU Insurance Neighbourhood Watch Awards, designed to identify and promote best practice models. The results were announced on November 21 at the National Neighbourhood Watch Conference. CGU Insurance statistics show that houses in active Neighbourhood Watch areas have a one in 344 chance of being burgled, compared to a national average of one in 20. Contact Rebecca Williams, NNWA, on 0171 772 3050

GREEN LIGHT SCHEME

North Yorkshire police cars and vans are being fitted with sensors to control traffic lights during emergency calls. Sponsored by Royal and SunAlliance, which insures the constabulary’s police vehicles, and local firm, Harrogate Auto Electrics, the scheme was launched on October 20 for trial in Harrogate and Knaresborough. Contact Steve Burns, North Yorkshire Police, on 01423 505541

Comment

In recent years, some companies have broadened their community engagement activities from the traditional three Es of education, environment and economic development to encompass more difficult social issues like crime. The logic was clear: if we don’t, the cost to the business will escalate.

Until now, few have confronted head on the more demanding problems of drug and alcohol abuse. One reason is that the climate is not favourable – the fashion for `naming and shaming’ is not conducive to a understanding and compassionate approach. But mainly it is because these are regarded as health issues and in Europe (but not in the USA or elsewhere) health is seen as a public sector responsibility.

In fact, the cost to business is considerable. Companies outside Europe pay healthcare costs, while companies everywhere suffer the indirect expense of time off work and lost production. The studies we report above are further proof, if any is needed, that what happens in society directly affects companies and that unsolved social problems can cost dear. So getting companies involved in preventative programmes must make good sense, with action also needed for a compassionate approach to time off and other employment policies.

Corporate Citizenship Briefing, issue no: 43 – December, 1998

COMMENT:

In recent years, some companies have broadened their community engagement activities from the traditional three Es of education, environment and economic development to encompass more difficult social issues like crime.

In recent years, some companies have broadened their community engagement activities from the traditional three Es of education, environment and economic development to encompass more difficult social issues like crime. The logic was clear: if we don’t, the cost to the business will escalate.

Until now, few have confronted head on the more demanding problems of drug and alcohol abuse. One reason is that the climate is not favourable – the fashion for `naming and shaming’ is not conducive to a understanding and compassionate approach. But mainly it is because these are regarded as health issues and in Europe (but not in the USA or elsewhere) health is seen as a public sector responsibility.

In fact, the cost to business is considerable. Companies outside Europe pay healthcare costs, while companies everywhere suffer the indirect expense of time off work and lost production. The studies we report above are further proof, if any is needed, that what happens in society directly affects companies and that unsolved social problems can cost dear. So getting companies involved in preventative programmes must make good sense, with action also needed for a compassionate approach to time off and other employment policies.

Corporate Citizenship Briefing, issue no: 43 – December, 1998

COMMENTS