Drinking Responsibly: The Government’s Proposals
The Drinking Responsibly Consultation sets out how the government plan to tackle the problem of alcohol misuse. They want to achieve a fundamental change in attitude, so that binge and underage drinking are no longer regarded as socially acceptable, and welcome any comments or suggestions on the plans outlined in this report.
Title: Drinking Responsibly: The Government’s Proposals
The responsibility of tackling alcohol misuse requires partnership working at both national and local level between Government, the drinks industry, health and Police services, individuals and communities.
Measures introduced so far include:
Alcohol Disorder Zones
The government plans to introduce new Alcohol Disorder Zones. These build on the existing powers that allow Police and Local Authorities to use a Designated Public Place Order, to confiscate alcohol containers within a certain area.
The new Alcohol Disorder Zones would cover licensed premises in areas that experienced alcohol-related disorder. Before such a zone was designated licensed premises would be warned to take their own steps to reduce alcohol disorder otherwise a designation would be imminent. They would also be required to contribute towards the Policing and other local costs of dealing with the disorder in this area.
1. How should the proposed Alcohol Disorder Zones link with existing powers and with new powers under the Licensing Act 2003?
2. How long should the warning period be?
The government proposes a minimum of 8 weeks.
3. What costs might be recovered?
The government proposes that costs would only cover additional costs directly associated with crime and disorder such as the expense to the emergency services, Police and Criminal Justice System. It will not include costs to existing services such as late night buses.
4. Who should pay the costs?
The Government believes that these costs should be targeted at those premises responsible for alcohol related disorder and welcomes views on how this might be fairly, practically and effectively achieved.
5. How should the costs be divided out amongst premises?
Either a flat rate for each premise or differential shares of the costs, linked perhaps to capacity or to rate banding used for licensing fees.
6. Should off-licences be included? How should the proposal cover off-licences? Should this be the same for all, or dependent on a trigger mechanism, such as sales to under 18s?
7. How should the zone be defined? Who would need to be consulted?
The Government believes that Police and Local Authority should define the geographical area based on evidence of unacceptable levels of disorder. They also believe the community should be able to request such zones.
8. How should the withdrawal of the zone be determined?
9. Should payment be enforced through licence penalties? If not, by what method?
10. Do Local Authorities see new burdens resulting from these provisions?
11. A Voluntary Approach?
Some licensed premises already contribute to local initiatives designed to reduce disorder. The Government welcomes these, and sees no reason why the introduction of alcohol disorder zones should affect them.
12. Should the concept of a Voluntary Fund be further developed at the national level, primarily for producers?
The Government is in talks with the alcohol industry, for a National Voluntary Fund, to provide education and campaign work to encourage responsible drinking.
The Government wants to create a power that will enable the Police, trading standards officers or the licensing authority to temporarily close premises persistently selling to under-age people. They believe that such a power should cover both on and off-licence premises. Those establishments selling both alcohol and other products could continue to sell non-alcoholic products during this time.
13. What should trigger a closure power for underage sales?
Triggers might include evidence gathered by the police or premises receiving a significant number of fixed penalty notices.
14. Who should exercise the power?
Police officer’s of Superintendent level or above, a Chief Executive of a Local Authority or an Inspector of Weights and Measures would be able to exercise this power.
15. What penalty should this attract?
The penalty for an unauthorised sale of alcohol under s136 of the Licensing Act 2003 is a fine of up to £20,000 or up to 6 months imprisonment, or both. A breach of the proposed closure order would need a similar penalty.
Changing the Culture
The government wants to create a new civil order a ‘Drinking Banning Order’, which will allow individuals aged 16 years or older who are responsible for alcohol related disorder, to be excluded from the area. A court could issue this order following a third or subsequent alcohol and disorder related criminal conviction, or for receiving a third or subsequent alcohol related fixed penalty notice.
16a. Should such orders have a minimum/ maximum term? If so, what?
b. Should exclusions permit the geographical scope of the order to go beyond areas where the offender has previously offended to prevent displacement?
c. Should the order only apply to certain times of day (e.g. 6pm 6am) or should this be at the court’s discretion?
d. And what should be the penalties for the breach of such an order?
17. What offences should a review cover? Should we cover drunk and disorderly offences/drink driving offences only? Or should we look at other violent offences fuelled by alcohol? What new or different penalties might be included in an escalation framework?
Date for responses: 28th February
Please send to:
Last update: 24 January 2005