New Clause 3 — Alcohol disorder zones

Part of Crime and Security Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:45 pm on 8th March 2010.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Alan Campbell Alan Campbell Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) (Crime Reduction) 6:45 pm, 8th March 2010

This has been an informative, if short, debate, in which there has been some agreement and some disagreement about whether these proposals deserve the support of the House. First, may I pay tribute to the work of and comments made by my hon. Friend Mr. Flello, who spoke authoritatively this evening, as he did in Committee, in a fair and balanced way? He demonstrated again-as if he needed to-why he is such an assiduous constituency Member of Parliament. He highlighted the problems in his area and pointed out the significance of alcohol in our culture, both negative and positive. He also highlighted the way in which MPs are able to involve themselves in these important matters for their constituents-I am sure that applies to most hon. Members in the Chamber this evening-and see at first hand the problems that prevail.

If the House will allow me, I will answer directly the two points that my hon. Friend made before I deal with the broader points raised by the hon. Members who lead for the Opposition parties in this area. My hon. Friend asked whether the public can influence decisions on late night orders. He may be aware that at the end of January we introduced the right of local councillors to act as interested parties, and nothing would prevent Members of Parliament from acting on behalf of residents in raising these matters.

My hon. Friend asked a specific question about petitions. I am able to confirm that where a petition is presented it could be used as the basis for a designated public place order and that local authorities are required to consider a petition under the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009. I hope that that gives him some reassurance.

I wish now to discuss the wider point. Let me first state that there is a degree of common view-if not unanimity-about the fact that alcohol does create problems in our local communities and that we need to tackle the problems robustly. We need to be tough, but we also need to recognise that no single measure that can be introduced will act as a silver bullet. We have to put into context the powers that have been introduced and how they have been used to date, because the reality is that the level of alcohol-related crime has fallen by a third since 1997. We are not complacent; we are determined to take action to reduce the level of alcohol-related crime and disorder further, particularly when it involves binge drinking and under-age drinking. Of course we want to minimise the violence, antisocial behaviour and health harms that come with the abuse of alcohol, but we also want a balanced approach that allows the law-abiding to go about their business and to enjoy alcohol safely and responsibly. We have introduced a host of measures, including ADZs, that have a role to play, but the reality is that 28 per cent. of the population perceive that alcohol-related disorder is either a fairly big or big problem in their area.