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Licensing Act 2003

Volume 488: debated on Monday 23 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment she has made of the effect of the implementation of the Licensing Act 2003 on shift patterns of police officers in (a) Essex and (b) England and Wales. (254993)

The shift patterns of police officers is an operational matter, and as such is for the chief constable to determine. However, the Government published a review of the Licensing Act 2003 in March 2008 which revealed a mixed picture in terms of its impact. The change in opening hours has not led to the widespread problems some people feared. Overall, crime and alcohol consumption are down, but there has been a small increase in alcohol-related violence in the early hours of the morning and some communities have seen a rise in disorder. Our main conclusion is that people are using the freedoms, but people are not sufficiently using the considerable powers granted by the Act to tackle problems, and that there is a need to rebalance action towards enforcement and crack down on irresponsible behaviour.

Additionally, we have introduced legislation for a new, mandatory code of practice. This will contain some compulsory national conditions, banning the most irresponsible practices and promotions which encourage people to drink excessively, or promote a binge-drinking culture. This will not affect the majority of businesses, small or large, that behave responsibly—but will target those that do not.

Further, the Government are funding a £4.5 million enforcement campaign, in addition to existing resources from the police, local authorities, and others, focused on 40-50 priority areas and led by ACPO Commander Simon O’Brien. There is additional funding for the 20 priority PCT areas, and a £10 million investment in national awareness campaigns.