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Alcohol Restriction Zones

Volume 472: debated on Monday 25 February 2008

3. What recent assessment she has made of the effectiveness of alcohol restriction zones in reducing levels of alcohol-related crime. (188115)

No assessment has been made nationally of the effectiveness of designated public places orders; however, I am aware that some local authorities—Southampton, for example—have made assessments of their DPPOs. The fact that more than 554 DPPOs are in existence suggests that they are effective in combating alcohol-related crime and disorder.

I thank the Minister for that answer. The Stafford town centre zone was so successful in cutting crimes of violence and public disorder that last year the police, the council and the public agreed to extend the zone, so does that not show how effective the measure can be in tackling alcohol-related crime? Does my hon. Friend agree that to tackle alcohol-related crime, we need more measures such as the zones and the more general application of laws that permit the police to seize alcohol in public places?

I agree with my hon. Friend and I am pleased that he has referred to the success of designated public places orders, because there has been a massive increase in their number. Personally, I am surprised that there are not even more of them spread out across the country. My hon. Friend is also right to point out the need for further powers to be given to the police and for further campaigns. He will be aware that a number of such campaigns have been conducted recently, including confiscation of alcohol from schoolchildren during half-term. We hope to see many more such activities in due course.

What are the Minister and the Home Secretary doing about the problem of cheap alcohol? Will they respond to the initiatives taken last week by Tesco and others?

I have already discussed with Tesco the proposal it made and we shall consider how we take the matter forward. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that a review of pricing and promotion is being undertaken by the Department of Health. The report is due in July; we look forward to it and will take appropriate action then.

We are all very aware of the growing number of under-age drinkers who drink excessively in our streets and parks. Will the Minister tell us how the new confiscation measures will work to ensure that young people do not simply reoffend and carry on with the same practices?

To stop young people reoffending we must first stop them believing that they can drink in public and act in any way in public without consequences. My hon. Friend is right to point out that our confiscation campaigns are directly focused on young people, to say that it is not acceptable to drink in public and then to use that as an excuse to vandalise and commit other acts. The confiscation powers enable the police, where they believe there is a risk of disorder, to confiscate alcohol from young people and, alongside our campaigns to tackle under-age sales, we believe they will make a real difference to the problems that I know exist in many estates across the country.

This week, a Home Office report is expected to show that in the year after the introduction of the Licensing Act 2003, crimes of serious violence committed in the early hours of the morning jumped by a quarter. In January 2005, the Government claimed that giving local councils the right to charge pubs, clubs and other alcohol retailers for the costs of policing was a priority, through the establishment of new alcohol disorder zones, yet three years on they are still not in place. Why not?

We will bring forward measures to introduce alcohol disorder zones in the near future. The hon. Gentleman referred to the review of the Licensing Act; the interim report into the implications of the Act, which we published last July, showed that serious violent crime over a whole night had actually fallen by 5 per cent.