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FORMER MINISTER ADVOCATES SPECIAL TAX ON LICENSED PREMISES

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By LGCnet political correspondent Robert Hedley ...
By LGCnet political correspondent Robert Hedley

Former number two at the Home Office John Denham - who resigned in protest over the war on Iraq - suggested that police forces and local authorities should be allowed to raise money from licensed premises to pay for additional police officers and community support officers.

Junior Home Office minister Caroline Flint said the government was concerned about the costs of policing late-night entertainment venues. It believed that partnership working with the industry was the key to tackling crime and disorder. There were some excellent examples - such as that in Manchester - and the Home Office was working closely with the prime minister's strategy unit to develop an alcohol reduction strategy, which would cover many issues, including managing the costs of crime and disorder.

Mr Denham, Labour MP for Southampton Itchen, said too much of the time of the increased number of police officers would be spent policing town and city centres on Friday and Saturday nights, not out in communities where people also wished to see them.

'Do we not need a statutory scheme to enable police authorities and local authorities to raise extra money from the licensed premises that make huge profits from binge and heavy drinking to fund extra police officers and community support officers in every community that needs them?' he asked

Ms Flint said 47% of violent incidents were committed under the influence of alcohol.

Gregory Barker, Conservative MP for Bexhill and Battle, asked if police authorities were allowed to raise additional revenue, could it be used to pay special constables. They performed 'an invaluable role', yet their numbers had fallen dramatically under the Labour government.

Ms Flint said it would be open to the force to decide the use of any funds raised. Some of the issues could be tackled through this year's Licensing Act - for example, by using new powers to close down rowdy premises and review licences instead of waiting until they cam e up for renewal.

Hansard 27 Oct 2003: Column 5 - 7

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