Wednesday, 28 Jul 2010
Proposals for tough new measures to crack down on problem premises and more powers for local communities to influence licensing decisions were unveiled by the government today.
Ahead of a major speech on anti-social behaviour Home Secretary Theresa May outlined a range of options to overhaul the Licensing Act. Measures for consultation include:
- making it easier for communities to have their say on local licensing by allowing local authorities to consider the views of the wider community, not just those living close to premises;
- taking tough action against underage drinking by doubling the fine to £20,000 for those found persistently selling alcohol to children, extending orders that see premises closed on a voluntary basis to a minimum of
seven days and bringing in automatic licence reviews for these problem premises – which can see licences revoked
- charging a fee for late-night licences to pay for the cost of extra policing and scrapping ineffective, bureaucratic and unpopular Alcohol Disorder Zones
- ensuring policing and health concerns are fully considered so that the impact of licensing on crime and disorder or public health can be fully taken into account when assessing licence applications
- increasing licence fees so that local councils can cover costs linked to enforcement leaving premises to pay rather than the local taxpayer
- tightening up rules for temporary licences by limiting the number of Temporary Event Notices that can be applied for in any one year – these are often used to get around the restrictions of applying for a permanent licence
- introducing a ban the sale of below cost alcohol and consulting on how this can be achieved.
Home Secretary Theresa May said: ‘The benefits promised by the 24 hour drinking ‘café culture’ have failed to materialise and in its place we have seen an increase in the number of alcohol related incidents and drink-fuelled crime and disorder.
‘We know that the majority of pubs and bars are well run business but the Government believes that the system needs to be rebalanced in favour of the local communities they serve with tougher action taken to crack down on the small number of premises who cause problems.’
Last year there were almost one million violent crimes that were alcohol related, with a fifth of all violent incidents taking place in or around a pub or club, and almost two-thirds of these happen at night. As well as this the total cost of alcohol-related crime and disorder to the taxpayer is estimated to be between £8bn and £13bn.
Notes to editors
1. The government’s public consultation will run for six weeks and seeks a views on a range of proposals to tackle alcohol related crime and disorder. The consultation paper Rebalancing the Licensing Act – a consultation on empowering individuals, families and local communities to shape and determine local licensing will be available from midday 28 July at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/consultations/
2. The government’s coalition programme includes the following commitments:
- we will ban the sale of alcohol below cost price
- we will review alcohol taxation and pricing to ensure it tackles binge drinking without unfairly penalising responsible drinkers, pubs and important local industries
- we will overhaul the Licensing Act to give local authorities and the police much stronger powers to remove licences from, or refuse to grant licences to, any premises that are causing problems
- we will allow councils and the police to shut down permanently any shop or bar found persistently selling alcohol to children
- we will double the maximum fine for under-age alcohol sales to £20,000
- we will permit local councils to charge more for late-night licences to pay for additional policing.
For more details, visit the programme for government website, or call the Home Office newsdesk on 020 7035 3535.