A clampdown on binge drinking and alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour moved a step closer today. As part of the wider reforms to tackle irresponsible drinking, the home office today announced a consultation on a range of measures to cut crime, save lives and reduce alcohol consumption.
The government has already rebalanced the licensing act in favour of local communities so that anyone can object to licensing applications. It has also introduced a late night levy so that businesses that sell alcohol late into the night contribute towards the cost of policing. Now the home office has launched a 10-week consultation on five further areas of action:
- a ban on multi-buy promotions;
- a review of the mandatory licensing conditions;
- a minimum unit price of 45p;
- a new health-related objective for alcohol licensing;
- cutting red tape for responsible businesses.
The measures are designed to tackle the problems associated with cheap drink and those who drink and sell alcohol irresponsibly.
Policing minister, Damian Green said:
“These measures are not about stopping responsible drinking but designed to tackle the minority who cause alcohol-related crime and disorder in our local communities.
“The evidence is clear - the availability of cheap alcohol contributes to harmful levels of drinking. It can’t be right that it is possible to purchase a can of beer for as little as 20p.
“We have already introduced early morning restriction orders to curb alcohol sales, a late night levy to ensure those selling alcohol help pay towards the costs of policing and we have made it easier for local authorities to tackle problematic licensed premises.”
Irresponsible drinking costs the taxpayer £21 billion a year. There were nearly a million alcohol-related violent crimes and 1.2 million alcohol-related hospital admissions last year alone. (see notes to editors)
The alcohol consultation can be completed online via the Home Office website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/about-us/consultations/alcohol-consultation/
Notes to editors
- The goverment committed through its alcohol strategy to introduce a minimum unit price to reduce alcohol consumption and its associated harms, particularly the numbers of hospital admissions, deaths and alcohol-related crimes. This consultation seeks views on a price of 45p.
2. The government’s alcohol strategy can be found here at:http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/alcohol-drugs/alcohol/alcohol-strategy
3. Irresponsible drinking costs the taxpayer £21 billion a year: government analysis, 2012 (by home office; department of health and others). Estimate that crime is £11 billion of this www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-committees/Health/Writtenevidencebyoralwitnesses.pdf
4. There were nearly a million alcohol-related violent crimes: British crime survey (BCS) - now replaced with the crime survey for England and Wales (CSEW), based on the perception of victims. Home Office statistical bulletin 2010/11. (This is 44% of all BCS violent crime; no CSEW figures for 2011/12 as yet.
5. 1.2 million alcohol-related hospital admissions last year alone: NHS information centre statistics on alcohol: England, 2012.
6. An early morning restriction order allows licensing authorities to restrict sales of alcohol in the whole or a part of their areas for any specified period between 12 midnight and 6 am, if they consider this appropriate for the promotion of the licensing objectives.
7. The late night levy allows licensing authorities to raise money from late-opening alcohol suppliers towards policing the night-time economy. It is a local power that licensing authorities can choose whether or not to exercise. It must cover the whole of the licensing authority’s area. However, the licensing authority will also choose the period during which the levy applies every night, between midnight and 6am, and decide what exemptions and reductions should apply (if any) from a list set out in regulations.
New alcohol measures in the police, reform and social responsibility act 2011 which came into effect in April 2012 include:
- making it easier for communities to have their say by allowing everyone the option to comment on licensing applications - not just those living close to premises;
- making it easier for communities to access information and have their say by requiring licensing authorities to publish on-line information about new licensing applications and to vary existing ones;
- giving licensing authorities greater powers and flexibility to crack down on irresponsible premises and tackle alcohol-related crime and disorder by making them “responsible authorities” under the Licensing Act on a par with the police and lowering the evidence threshold for licensing decisions, making it easier, for example, to impose conditions on premises licences;
- doubling the fine for persistent underage sales to £20,000, and extending orders that see premises closed on a voluntary basis to a maximum of two weeks - which can lead to licences revoked;
- ensuring health bodies have a greater say in licensing decisions by making them “responsible authorities” under the Licensing Act so that they get automatically notified of new applications and can object or make representations on the basis of the statutory licensing objectives;
- tightening the rules for temporary event licences by allowing for the first time objections from environmental health. And allowing the police and environmental health to be able to make objections on all licensing objectives - not just prevention of crime and disorder;
- reducing bureaucracy by allowing councils to suspend licences due to non-payment of fees, saving them the time/cost of pursuing non-payment through the courts;
- later in the year, we will introduce new reforms allowing local authorities to charge a levy for late-night licences to contribute to the cost of extra policing, and allow communities to restrict the sale of alcohol between midnight and 6am. A public consultation on these measures to tackle problems of late night drinking is currently still open. It closes on 10 April and is available via the Home Office website. We will also give licensing authorities new powers to set licensing fees locally.
For further information please contact the home office press office on 020 7035 3535.