minister, Hazel Blears, Richard Caborn and Melanie Johnson to discuss ways
of reducing the alcohol-fuelled violence which has become a regular feature
of town and city centres at weekend closing times.
Alcohol abuse is extremely harmful to individuals and communities - almost
half of all violent crime is related to alcohol, around 70 per cent of
weekend A&E admissions are drink-related, alcohol abuse results in 17
million lost working days, 150,000 hospital admissions and costs the
taxpayer around£20bn each year.
The government's Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy, published earlier this
year, aims to tackle the minority of drinkers who cause problems. A key part
of that strategy is working in partnership with the industry.
In addition, the Licensing Act will lead to a more civilised and responsible
culture in the country's pubs, bars and restaurants. It is a key plank of
the government's drive to cut down on crime and anti-social behaviour.
Today's meeting is part of ongoing joint work to find practical ideas and
solutions to reduce the impact of alcohol abuse.
Mr Blair said:
'Millions of people drink alcohol responsibly every day.
No-one wants to stop that pleasure. But there is a clear and growing problem
on our town and city centre streets up and down the country on Friday and
Saturday nights. At a time when overall crime is falling alcohol related
violent crime is rising. New powers are there. They need to be used. As a
society we must make sure that binge drinking does not become the new
'There should be safe and enjoyable drinking for the
majority and zero tolerance of the anti-social minority.'
Home Office minister and sponsor of the government's alcohol harm reduction
strategy, Hazel Blears, said:
'Crime trends are changing. The crimes which have
traditionally concerned people the most, such as property and vehicle crime,
continue to fall but have been replaced in the public's mind by violent
crime. Nearly half of all violent crime is alcohol related.
'The government, police, local authorities and the alcohol
industry are all determined to tackle the alcohol fuelled violence and
anti-social behaviour, which one in four people say is a problem in their
'This summer, in consultation with the drinks industry, we
will launch a police led campaign to cut down on under-age drinking and the
chaotic drink-fuelled scenes often found in our town and city centres at
closing time. This will not be a one off blitz, but the start of a very long
campaign through which we hope to cut violence and make people act more
Licensing minister Richard Caborn said:
'We need to work in partnership to tackle the problems
alcohol can cause and ensure our town and city centres at night are safe,
vibrant places we can all enjoy.
'The Licensing Act is an essential element in our drive to
achieve this. It will end fixed closing times and put in place tough new
powers to crack down on the irresponsible behaviour of a minority. The Act,
like the Strategy, puts alcohol licensing at the heart of local policies to
make sure it meets the needs of the local community. Today's meeting is an
important part of that process.'
Melanie Johnson, public health minister, said:
'Alcohol-related injuries and illness costs the health
service nearly£2bn every year as well as the personal cost to
individuals, families and communities. By working closely with the alcohol
industry we can have a co-ordinated approach to combat these problems. This
will also feed in to the Public Health White Paper which will be published
in the summer.'
1. The government published its Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy for
England on 15 March 2004. Copies of the strategy can be found at
2. The strategy puts joint action at the heart of a series of measures
* tackle alcohol-related disorder in town and city centres
* improve treatment and support for people with alcohol problems
* clamp down on irresponsible promotions by the industry
* provide better information to consumers about the dangers of alcohol
3. Hazel Blears announced that this summer, the Police Standards Unit
will lead an enforcement campaign (teamed with ACPO) to cut down on alcohol
fuelled violence and target the irresponsible few who encourage underage and
binge drinking. See Home Office press notice 164/2004.
4. On 10 July, the Licensing Act 2003 received Royal Assent. The new
Act provides a balanced package of freedoms and safeguards. It will clamp
down on crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour perpetrated by a minority
and give the responsible majority more freedom and choice about how they
spend their leisure time.