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Binge Drink Crackdown

by msecadm4921

Town centres will again be targeted over Christmas by police and local authorities in an effort to crack down on binge drinking, the Home Office says.

The second phase of a joint ACPO and Home Office co-ordinated alcohol misuse enforcement campaign will run until January 3 in more than 180 places – double the number than took part in the successful summer campaign, the authorities say. Every police force in England and Wales is taking part.

What they say

Home Office Minister, Hazel Blears, said: "We know that the concerted blitz to tackle alcohol fuelled violence and sales to under-18s over the summer worked. The levels of serious violence decreased in the 92 policing areas that took part and many in the alcohol industry were prompted to act more responsibly, abandoning ‘all you can drink’ type promotions and reviewing their policies on not serving alcohol to under-18s. But we are not complacent, we know there are still widespread and serious problems. That is why even more police forces and their local partners will be taking part in the second phase of the campaign, focusing on tackling underage drinking and on ensuring that town centres are not turned into no-go-zones on Friday and Saturday nights. We have given the police more tools to do this – since the summer, on the spot fines for buying or selling alcohol to under-18s have been introduced and the penalty for drunk and disorderly behaviour has been increased from £50 to £80. We are also looking at extending the Licensing Act to give police powers to shut down immediately premises that have been caught selling alcohol to under-18s, for 24 hours. Christmas is a time when people should be able to have a few drinks and enjoy themselves, but that should not be an excuse for violent and anti-social behaviour by a minority, spoiling enjoyment for everyone else. The Government is determined to tackle alcohol-fuelled disorder and violence, helping to build safer and more secure communities."

What police say

John Giffard, ACPO spokesman on licensing issues and Chief Constable of Staffordshire Police, said: "The summer campaign showed clearly what extra enforcement activity can bring. ACPO wants people to be able to enjoy themselves at Christmas without the scenes of disorderly behaviour fuelled by over-consumption of alcohol. Increased enforcement also means the police service and others concentrating on certain areas, such as town and city centres, which leaves others with less resource. We hope the industry will respond with their own rigour to prevent offences occurring, especially under-age drinking and drunken behaviour in licensed premises." Licensing Minister, Richard Caborn, said: "The drinks industry know we mean business. And there are encouraging signs that they are getting their house in order – with breweries and bars scrapping irresponsible drinks promotions, new health warnings on bottles of booze and free soft drinks for drivers. They are to be congratulated. But we must also reach drinkers. The message is stark and simple – if you brawl in the street, urinate in a doorway or are sick in the curb, you could be slapped with a £80 fine.”

Bristol Nightsafe

The Safer Bristol Partnership established a violent crime delivery group with a key part of their work being to tackle city centre alcohol-related violence. Under their Nightsafe initiative they have they have aimed to improve the taxi rank area of the city by deploying taxi marshals, extra CCTV and joint working with the ambulance service. Taxi marshals have been part of incremental changes in the city centre, the partnership says, beginning with improved lighting and following on from this enhanced signage, warning persons that CCTV was monitoring the area. The partnership then looked at incidents, specifically at the taxi rank and introduced a dedicated fixed camera pointed directly at the head of the queue and able to produce images showing both the passenger and the licence plate of they taxi they take. From September three taxi-marshals were deployed on duty on Friday and Saturday nights. The trained marshals are identifiable in fluorescent jackets and are on hand to meet and greet and assist people hoping to hail a cab. They also ensure that only licensed Hackney carriages use the rank, stopping queue jumping and discouraging the kind of anti-social behaviour that threatens the safety of both the public and taxi drivers. Whilst having no statutory powers, the marshals are assisted by the nearby location of Avon and Somerset police officers in the new Police Community Contact Vehicle. They can also call on the paramedic unit from Avon Ambulance Service, next to the police control unit.

Both the taxi trade and the general public have given a very positive response to the introduction of marshals, it is claimed, which has encouraged more taxi drivers to operate in the city centre, thereby further helping to alleviate some of the problems.

From introduction on August 6 the paramedic team have dealt with 190 incidents (up to 2 October), most of which would normally have resulted in a 999 call for an Ambulance. Additionally, 98 (52pc) of the incidents dealt with would normally have been referred to A&E for treatment. To date taxi marshals have intervened and successfully managed 38 altercations.

St Albans

Some 18 months ago PC Ifran Ishaq, Hertfordshire Constabulary, became the Pubwatch liaison officer for St Albans. The role was created because, on many occasions, there was no single point of contact within the police basic command unit for pubs to liaise with. The Pubwatch scheme was set up to monitor local licenced premises. There are now about 25 licensed premises signed up to the scheme and are monitored by the local council and the local police. To date over 35 people have been banned from St Albans licensed premises. The chairman of Pubwatch, Peter Bell, is also the local manager of the Batchwood Nightclub and hosts the under 18s night which takes place once a month in the school holidays. PC Ifran Ishaq often attends these nights, in uniform, as part of an anti-drugs awareness for teenagers. Some of the results include, it is claimed: an excellent working atmosphere between licensees, police and council ; a 40pc reduction in crime ; a banning scheme ; training for licensees in drug and alcohol awareness; regular meetings to discuss and prepare for the Licensing Act 2003 ; ground prepared for the Security Industry Authority licences for door staff; and co-ordinated CCTV operation, radiolink and local policing patterns.

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