Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation Ninth Report

Letter from Thames Valley Police

I have canvassed the views of the Licensing officers who represent the ten police areas within the Thames Valley. This response to your Consultation Paper, dated April 1999, is worded in accordance with their replies.

In policing terms, Friday and Saturday evenings are the busiest within the weekly cycle. Increases in Crime and Disorder of around 15% are being recorded as our police areas witness the large influx of revellers into their town centres where the main attractions are linked to alcohol.

Sundays provide the only buffer in the week when there is a serious restriction on the consumption of alcohol and a noticeable decrease, of over 50%, in daily recorded crime and disorder.

At a time when governments across Europe are considering strategies to reduce alcohol consumption, we are seeing our consumption, per head of population, rising to 7.6 litres of pure alcohol per annum. (9.4 litres for those aged 15 and over)

Young men and women in the UK are amongst the heaviest drinkers in Europe according to a new survey of trends in nine countries including the United States and eight from Western Europe. The 18-24 year olds consuming on average 15.6 units per week, secondly only to Germany who consume an average of 20.3 units per week. With research showing continual growth in consumption, these figures are good for the drinks industry but the outlook for crime reduction partnerships is gloomy.

It begs the question "Who will benefit from this and future deregulation?"

As already identified in paragraph 22 of the consultation document, 'Concerns have been expressed about the effect on residents and others who have to go to work on Monday morning'.

Unlike excess consumption on Friday and Saturday nights, when those who over indulge have the opportunity to sleep it off, Monday is a normal working day. As such, will we begin to see a rise in absenteeism and alcohol related accidents both on the roads and in the workplace, with the knock-on effects being felt by industry and commerce?

At present, Public Entertainment Licences often extend well beyond the end of liquor licensing hours. We anticipate that, once granted, a large number of outlets will be looking to end their operations on Sundays at 2am or later and so the protection that the government is trying to build in will be lost.

With policing strategies failing to cope with the burden of increased crime and disorder levels on Friday and Saturday nights, is there any logic in turning Sundays, which you describe as having a 'special nature', into another day when we see crime and disorder soaring at peak times?

Alan Penton, Sergeant, Community Safety & Licensing Matters

23 August 1999

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