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.

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

There have been discussions precisely on that point to ensure that some of the criticisms about bureaucracy made earlier in the debate do not apply. Let me be frank: as James Brokenshire said, local authorities are not seeking to stigmatise their area, and they are certainly not looking to add costs to the evening economy, particularly as many businesses are feeling the squeeze of the recession. However, it would still not be correct to accept the new clause and remove the power to create alcohol disorder zones.

Local authorities and enforcement agencies have a wide range of tools and powers available to tackle alcohol-related crime and disorder, and it is up to them which they use. As I said, there is no single power than can be used to address the problem alone. Front-line agencies require a wide range of powers to tackle the problem. The hon. Gentleman paid tribute to the work of front-line staff and agencies in that regard, and I support his comments. There are many good examples across the country of areas where problems associated with the night-time economy are well managed.

Because alcohol disorder zones are a last resort, and are to be used only when all other avenues of persuading licensed premises to adopt a more responsible approach have failed, I believe that they still have a role. In our discussions with local authorities about why they have not created alcohol disorder zones, they have said that it is precisely the existence of that last resort that has encouraged them to look again at the alternative powers available to them. Therefore, alcohol disorder zones do not have to be introduced in order to have an influence: because they involve cost, they focus people's minds on ensuring that they do everything that they can to tackle the problems in their area. In that regard, the fact that local authorities have not felt the need to use that power of last resort is testament to the good work that is being done in many areas.