The policing and crime bill criminalises young people persistently drinking in public places
The policing and crime bill: putting people first is due for its second reading in Parliament on 19th January. It contains measures to "protect the public, increase police accountability and effectiveness, and tackle crime and disorder" in England and Wales.
Part 3 of the Bill contains provisions intended to reduce alcohol misuse by amending police powers to deal with young people drinking alcohol in public. There are also provisions that will raise the maximum penalties for those premises that sell alcohol to young people and those people who refuse to stop drinking in public when instructed to by the police. There are also provisions to allow the Secretary of State to create, through secondary legislation, mandatory licensing conditions relating to alcohol. These provisions have been consulted on in the Government publications Youth Alcohol Action Plan and Safe, Sensible, Social – Consultation on further action.
Many will doubtless be unhappy with the ever stronger powers for enforcement and regulatory bodies, but perhaps the most controversial aspect of the Bill is its measures to tackle drinking by under 18s. The Home Secretary had wanted to ban young people's drinking in public places altogether; this Bill doesn't go quite that far, but will criminalise under 18s who are repeatedly caught in possession of alcohol in a public place (see clause 29 below). It is not (yet!) illegal for under 18s (if over 5) to drink alcohol.
The details of the proposed measures for alcohol are:
- Clause 26: Increase in penalty for offence - increases the maximum fine for consuming alcohol in a designated public place from level two (currently £500) to level four (currently £2,500).
- Clause 27: Selling alcohol to children - amends the offence of persistently selling alcohol to children from three occasions to two occasions within three months.
- Clause 28: Confiscating alcohol from young persons - amends the police’s power to confiscate alcohol from young people in a public place so that they no longer need to prove that the individual intended to consume the alcohol. This amendment also requires the young person to give their name and address to the police, and allows the police to return the individual to their home or a place of safety if they are under 16.
- Clause 29: Offence of persistently possessing alcohol in a public place - introduces a new offence of persistently possessing alcohol in a public place. Young people under 18 can be prosecuted for this offence if they are caught with alcohol in a public place three times within a 12 month period. The maximum punishment for this is a level two fine (currently £500).
- Clause 30 Directions to individuals who represent a risk to disorder - extends the police’s powers to issue Directions to Leave under section 27(1) of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 so that they can be issued to persons aged 10-15. Clause 31: Mandatory licensing conditions relating to alcohol and Schedule 4: Mandatory licensing conditions relating to alcohol
- Clause 31 introduces Schedule 4, which makes provision about mandatory licensing conditions relating to alcohol - amends the Licensing Act 2003 to create an enabling power that allows the Secretary of State to set out (in secondary legislation):
a) a small number of mandatory licence conditions (no more than nine) that apply to all new or existing licences and club premises certificates which permit the sale of alcohol
b) a larger number of permitted conditions, which the licensing authority can, in consultation with responsible authorities, apply to more than one licensed premises or club at a time. All conditions must be in made in accordance with the four licensing objectives set out in the Licensing Act 2003.
# Libby Ranzetta
# Alcohol Policy
# January 12, 2009