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News - 5 July 2010
Bars and pubs to pay for the cost of binge drinking
The government is considering the introduction of a range of measures to address binge drinking in town and city centres. One is expected to be a new "law and order levy” to pay for extra policing required at weekends
The new coalition government wants to dismantle the 24 hour drinking culture that changes to the law under Labour accommodated after their 1997 election victory.
Part of this is the expectation that late-night bars will help to pay for the cost of tackling antisocial behaviour and alcohol-related violence. The most likely route will be for councils to be given the power to charge premises additional fees for late-night licences. The exact amount may be graded according to the venue’s popularity or rateable value or capacity.
The new proposals will be part of the government's proposed Police Reform & Social Responsibility Bill, and are thought to include:
- Reducing the total number of outlets selling alcohol in town and city centres
- Requiring venues to prove that extending their opening hours will offer a tangible benefit to the local community.
- Moving the responsibility for licensing away from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to the Home Office to accentuate its law and order implications.
- Developing a mechanism to make the cost of alcohol more expensive across the board. Supermarkets, for instance, could be banned from selling alcohol below the combined cost of duty and VAT.
- Doubling maximum fines for shopkeepers who sell alcohol to under-age drinkers from the current £10,000 to £20,000.
The proposals reflect strong lobbying by Association of Chief Police Officers [ACPO] for a harder stance on binge drinking. Alcohol Concern claims that drink-related violence costs police forces £7bn a year.
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