The government has today published its response to the consultation ‘dealing with the problems of late night drinking’ and laid draft legislation in parliament so that later this year local councils will be able to:
- use early morning alcohol restriction orders (EMROs) to restrict the sale of alcohol in all or part of their areas between midnight and 6am;
- charge a levy for late-night licences to contribute to the cost of extra policing, and other costs linked to late-night drinking like street cleaning.
Minister for crime prevention and antisocial behaviour reduction Lord Henley said:
‘The government is radically reshaping its approach to crime and policing by giving back powers to local communities so they can reclaim their high streets.
‘We have already overhauled the ineffective licensing regime and introduced new measures that will put local people back at the heart of licensing decisions, allowing them to take action against problem premises and alcohol-related offending.
‘We are building on this through the government’s new alcohol strategy which sets out plans to crack down on the ‘binge drinking’ culture, end the availability of cheap alcohol and irresponsible drinks promotions, and slash the number of people drinking excessively.’
The consultation ran for 12 weeks and asked the public for views on the types of premises which could be exempted from an EMRO, or eligible for a reduction in levy charges if they were viewed as having a minimal effect on alcohol-related crime and disorder. The government also consulted on the process that areas would need to follow when adopting these new measures, as well as on the type of services local authorities may fund from their portion of the levy and whether to allow exemptions for New Year’s Eve.
The levy and EMRO measures are contained in the police reform and social responsibility act 2011. Other measures in the Act that came into effect in April include:
- making it easier for communities to have their say by scrapping the ‘vicinity test’ which allows everyone the option to comment on licensing applications – not just those living close to premises;
- giving health bodies a greater say by making them ‘responsible authorities’ so they are automatically notified about and can make representations on new premises applications;
- taking tough action against premises that persistently sell alcohol to children by doubling the fine to £20,000 and extending orders that see premises closed on a voluntary basis as an alternative to a fine from 48 to 336 hours - which can lead to licences being revoked;
- reforming the system of temporary event notices, including allowing for the first time objections from environmental health to be made on the grounds of noise, and the police and environmental health to be able to make objections on all licensing objectives - not just prevention of crime and disorder;
- reducing burdens and bureaucracy by allowing councils to suspend licences due to non-payment of fees saving them the time and cost of pursuing non-payment through the courts.
These measures are at the heart of radical plans to turn the tide against irresponsible drinking as set out in the government’s alcohol strategy, published earlier this year. This includes plans to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol, consult on a ban on multi-buy price promotions in shops and give stronger powers to local areas to control the number of licensed premises. A number of key proposals within the strategy will be subject to consultation in the autumn.
Notes to editors
1. The response to the consultation can be found on the home office website at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/about-us/consultations/late-night-drinking/
2. An EMRO is a power introduced by the previous government that was not commenced. An EMRO enables licensing authorities to restrict the sale of alcohol in the whole or a part of their areas between 3am and 6am on all or some days. The police reform & social responsibility act 2011 amends this to allow EMROs to be applied more flexibly to problem areas between midnight and 6am.
3. The late night levy will allow local authorities that choose to adopt it to charge for late-night licences to pay for the cost of extra policing. At least 70 per cent of the levy will go directly to the police, with the remainder retained by the local authority. Local areas will also decide which of the available categories of exemptions and reductions will apply.
4. The two powers were consulted on as part of the ‘rebalancing the licensing act’ consultation (Summer 2010) http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/drugs/alcohol/rebalancing-consultation/, and introduced in the police reform and social responsibility act (September 2011) http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2011/13/introduction/enacted
5. The government’s alcohol strategy can be found at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/drugs/alcohol-strategy
6. For more information contact the home office press office on 020 7035 3535.