17/12/2004

Fines increased for drink-related offences

On the spot fines for drunken seasonal revellers have been increased to £80 as the Government launches a crack down on binge drinking in 180 urban locations.

The increase in fines is part of a drive to reduce both binge drinking and the sale of alcohol to under-18s as police and local authorities target unruly behaviour in town centres in England and Wales.

The latest alcohol misuse enforcement campaign will run until January 3 and every force in England and Wales is taking part.

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".

The Minister warned that the second phase of the campaign would focus on tackling underage drinking and on ensuring that town centres are not turned into "no-go-zones on Friday and Saturday nights".

She said: "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".

The spokesperson on licensing issues for the Association of Chief Police Officers and Chief Constable of Staffordshire Police, John Giffard, said that the summer campaign showed "clearly what extra enforcement activity can bring".

During the course of the Summer Alcohol Misuse Enforcement Campaign police and other officials visited more than 30,500 premises and 4% of those premises visited were found to have committed an offence.

Police issued 4,081 fixed penalty notices to individuals: 44% for causing harassment, 44% for being drunk and disorderly and 13% for other alcohol-related offences.

(SP)

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