Tackling drink-fuelled violence and disorder which is blighting many of our communities is a key priority for the Home Office, new Policing and Criminal Justice Minister Nick Herbert emphasised on a visit to Portsmouth today.
The minister met with local police during a walkabout around pubs and bars in Portsmouth city centre to see first-hand the problems and successes they have had tackling alcohol-related crime and disorder. He also met representatives from the local council’s licensing and trading standards teams.
Home Office Policing and Criminal Justice Minister Nick Herbert said: ‘We are concerned that around half of all violent incidents are alcohol-related, which is why we plan to overhaul the existing licensing regime, ban the sale of low cost alcohol and give the police and local authorities more powers to strip problem premises of licenses.
‘It’s really encouraging to see how Hampshire Police are working closely with the local council licensing team and industry. Together they are addressing the issues that really matter to local people and in doing so helping make the area a safer and more enjoyable place to be.’
Portsmouth policing commander Chief Superintendent David Peacock said: ‘Alongside our partner agencies we have done a huge amount of work to address and reduce alcohol-related crime in Portsmouth and I welcome the minister’s commitment to tackle this issue.
‘Violent crime in the city went down by 18 per cent over the last year, but the sad events of the last few months, including the death of Private Matt Brooks, have once again highlighted just how dangerous the effects of alcohol can be.
‘I’m now saying to licensees that you need to take responsibility for the safety and well-being of your customers or we will shut you down.
‘I’m also asking people who go out drinking to please look after yourselves and your friends and take responsibility for the amount of alcohol you consume.’
Notes to editors
1. The government’s coalition programme includes the following commitments:
- We will ban the sale of alcohol below cost price
- We will review alcohol taxation and pricing to ensure it tackles binge drinking without unfairly penalising responsible drinkers, pubs and important local industries
- We will overhaul the Licensing Act to give local authorities and the police much stronger powers to remove licences from, or refuse to grant licences to, any premises that are causing problems.
- We will allow councils and the police to shut down permanently any shop or bar found persistently selling alcohol to children.
- We will double the maximum fine for under-age alcohol sales to £20,000.
- We will permit local councils to charge more for late-night licences to pay for additional policing.
2. More details can be found at: www.programmeforgovernment.hmg.gov.uk
3. During the visit Nick Herbert met with police and local authority officers:
- Chief Superintendent Peacock - Portsmouth’s police commander
- Sergeant Wendie Douglas, Portsmouth’s police licensing officer
- Inspector Louise Tester - Licensing & Violent Crime Reduction lead
- Alan Knobel - Portsmouth city’s Substance Misuse Coordinator
- San Van - the city council’s Night Time Economy Officer
- Craig Copeland - Trading Standards Officer, Age Related Sales
4. Mr Herbert also attended a shift briefing at Portsmouth Central Police Station. Following this he visited Gunn Wharf and Guildhall Walk, Portsmouth’s key night time ‘hotspots’, where he observed the policing of pubs and bars in the area and took part in an enforcement visit to a problem premises.
5. For more details please call the Home Office newsdesk on 0207 035 3535.