Home secretary declares war on ‘failed’ drinking culture

By Rebecca Burns

The home secretary has announced a review of antisocial behaviour measures after declaring attempts to moderate drinking had “failed”.

Launching her new policy proposals, Theresa May said she wanted to overhaul 24-hour licensing and crack down on the UK’s binge drinking culture.

Among the home secretary’s proposals are plans to make it easier for local residents to object to local extended licensing laws.

According to the Home Office, one million alcohol-related violent crimes were committed last year.

In the same period, a fifth of all violent incidents took place in or around a pub or club.

Ms May said: “The benefits promised by the 24-hour drinking ‘cafe culture’ have failed to materialise and in its place we have seen an increase in the number of alcohol-related incidents and drink-fuelled crime and disorder.

“We know that the majority of pubs and bars are well-run businesses but the government believes that the system needs to be rebalanced in favour of the local communities they serve with tougher action taken to crack down on the small number of premises who cause problems.”

Ms May’s licensing plans also include fees for late night license venues to fund extra policing and street cleaning and a ban on the selling of alcohol below cost price.

The announcement comes alongside Ms May’s plans to “change the emphasis” of the government’s response to antisocial behaviour.

Asbos were brought in by the Labour party as a deterrent to further antisocial behaviour without the need to issue a criminal charge.

However, Home Office figures show that half of all Asbos in England and Wales were breached in 2008.

Government advisor Derek Campbell welcomed the review, telling the BBC: “It’s something that we’ve been asking for for some time under previous governments.

“We’ve got clear examples of individuals where it actually improves their street cred to have Asbos,” said Mr Campbell.

He recommended a more proportional rising scale of punishment, calling the current Asbo system “too cumbersome and bureaucratic”.