Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Booze Britain

You will find below an article by Parliamentary candidate Gordon Henderson about his concern with regard to Alcohol Abuse, I would like to make a few points
When the supermarkets first started selling alcohol, I was concerned that this would snowball to a point where every possible outlet would be selling the product. A friend of mine who was an MP at the time said the reason for the Supermarkets were selling alcohol was because of public demand, I fervently disagreed. My argument was the Supermarkets artificially create the demand by clever marketing on both points I have been proved right. The start of the alcohol fuelled loutish and criminal behaviour was initially the easily availability of alcohol and the lack of supervision of outlets by both Police and Council. Maybe we should take a step backwards and revisit the 1950’s/60’s where alcohol was supervised more strictly i.e. only Pubs, Clubs, restaurants and Off-licences were allowed sell alcohol. So instead of Supermarkets being allowed to sell alcohol of the shelf giving young people the idea that buying Whiskey, Wine etc is no different then buying bread or milk, why not insist that any outlet selling alcohol have a separate shop, with separate staff, till etc i.e. a proper Off license with anyone under the age of 18 not allowed in. This way the premises can monitored any infringement this would be soon be noticed by the Police and relative authority, those premises that cannot house a separate Off License facility would have their license withdrawn. Make it a criminal Offence to drink alcohol in a Public Place i.e. walking along the pavement drinking cans of beer, give stiffer penalties to those licensees who sell to the under age and punish under age drinkers by imposing a curfew for certain period.
Pubs and Clubs come under a lot of stick for the problem of our drink culture but the vast majority of young drinkers can not afford Pub and Club prices so they get tanked up on cheap booze from the supermarkets before they go out but it is not the supermarkets who get the blame or have to deal with these drunken louts

Martin Clarke East Street Sittingbourne

Date: 18th February 2008
Release date: Immediate
Subject: Time to make licensing laws work.

LOCAL Conservative Parliamentary Candidate, Gordon Henderson, expressed his concern about official figures which have revealed not only a growing number of under-age drinkers are being admitted to hospital, but also that the laws against under-age drinking are not being properly enforced.

This disturbing news coincides with the report from Crime Concern which has found that “drinking to get drunk is starting younger with serious consequences to health and crime”. Almost four in ten young people now start drinking at the age of 13, and half of their parents turning a blind eye.

· Figures – unearthed by the Conservatives in Parliament – reveal that under-age children who break the law by buying alcohol illegally are not being held to account. Fewer than a hundred individuals a year are punished for trying to buy alcohol illegally.

· What is more, a growing number of children are now being hospitalised after being admitted to A&E due to alcohol misuse, with 596 incidents across the South East Coast Strategic Health Authority last year. Across the country as a whole, there has been an increase of 40 per cent since 2000.

Mr Henderson said:
‘Under-age drinking harms young people and fuels youth crime and anti-social behaviour. Labour Ministers talk endlessly about cracking down on alcohol-related violence, but these new figures show just how difficult the task is.

‘The biggest problem is that because of changes in the licensing laws, introduced by the current Government, there is no one agency with a clear responsibility for tackling under aged drinking.

‘Swale Borough Council is responsible for issuing licences to sell alcohol, which they can refuse to renew if a licence is abused, however, the borough council is not responsible for monitoring the sale of alcohol to under aged drinkers. It is Kent County Council’s Trading Standards Department that undertakes spot checks to see if off licences are selling to anyone under 18.

‘Add to this mix the police, who are the only body with the power to arrest people breaking the law, but who are not responsible for issuing or monitoring licences, and you have a recipe for confusion. It is hardly surprising that in Kent between 2004 and 2006 only one youngster was prosecuted for purchasing alcohol illegally and not one single caution was issued!

‘It’s time to make licensing laws work properly. I think the Government should change the law to make a single body responsible for issuing licences, monitoring licences and liaising with the police to prosecute those who abuse licences.

‘We also need greater social responsibility, and an end to some parents turning a blind eye to their children’s drinking and I am pleased that increasing social responsibility is at the heart of David Cameron’s plans to make Britain safer and stronger.’

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