Pub happy hours and drinks promotions should be banned, and supermarkets prevented from selling loss-leading alcohol in a bid to combat drunk and disorderly crime, a group of MPs have said.
After recognising the dramatic effect that cheap alcohol has on alcohol-related crime and under-age drinking (45 per cent of victims now say their attacker had been drinking), the Home Affairs select committee have outlined recommendations in a new report, suggesting all pubs follow a compulsory code of conduct, with penalties for breaches.
The report stresses the committee’s “disappointment by the decision of the British Beer and Pub Association to withdraw its policy on promotions”, which previously encouraged members to move away from all-you-can-drink offers. Instead the committee suggests the code of conduct include a ban on such promotions, and measures to “ensure responsible labelling and staff training.”
The report entitled Policing in the 21st Century also recommends imposing a minimum set price for the sale of alcohol in the off-trade, with a ban on the use of loss-leading by supermarkets. These measures are hoped to prevent ‘pre-loading’, where individuals consume alcohol at home before going out.
It suggests that the Government should encourage landlords to join voluntary Pubwatch schemes, while those situated in problem areas should be taxed to support police in the combat of drunken behaviour, where their own preventative measures fail.
Blaming license-holders who “sell to under-age drinkers or do not take reasonable steps to prevent alcohol-related crime” for putting extra pressure on police, the report recommends Government and local authorities do more to monitor compliance with licence conditions.
However, the report does not recommend increasing the legal drinking age to 21, a move they believe will “unfairly penalise young people who do drink responsibly.” as they have seen “no evidence to suggest that teenage drinkers cause more problems for the police than those in their early 20s.” Instead the report suggests that young people be educated and encouraged to drink more responsibly.
The Wine and Spirit Trade Association said today they do not agree completely with the recommendations made by the report, claiming that raising prices will do nothing to deter crime.
Jeremy Beadles, Chief Executive of the WSTA, said: “There are more than enough laws to deal with alcohol related disorder but the police do not have the resources they need to enforce them. Calls for Government to set the price of alcohol or raise prices for everyone are simply unfair, particularly in the current economic climate, and will do nothing to stop the small minority who misuse alcohol.”