The Coalition Government has decided to proceed with its proposal of a national relaxation of licensing hours for England’s Football World Cup campaign later this year, in spite of opposition from police and health bodies.
In its response to the two-week consultation held by the Home Office, the Government declared the World Cup to be an event of exceptional national significance, meaning that the Secretary of State for the Home Office may make an order relaxing licensing hours for licensed premises. Since the introduction of the 2003 Act, this national power has been used to mark the Royal Wedding in 2011 and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, but doing so for the 2014 World Cup would be the first time such a power has been used for a sports event.
The consultation document asked four closed questions about the proposal to 1,503 respondents. Of all online responses, 75% (1,084) were reported to be in favour of a national relaxation of licensing hours, whereas 24% reported that extension of licensing hours should be a local decision left up to individual licensing authorities, using existing Temporary Event Notice (TEN) legislation.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), Local Government Association (LGA), the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), the National Organisation of Residents Associations (NORA), and the Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA) argued that licensing authorities are best placed to make decisions about which premises should be allowed to stay open late and that with a national relaxation, councils and the police would not have a definitive picture of which premises intend to open later, making effective public safety planning much harder.
Other concerns voiced over the proposal included the fact that an increase in violence, domestic violence and anti-social behaviour associated with drinking and televised football matches and the link between licensed premises and football related incidents during the last World Cup in 2010, with 87% of recorded incidents taking place in licensed premises.
The relaxation of licensing hours during the FIFA World Cup, 2014: Government response to the consultation can be accessed from the Gov.uk website.