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

Local authorities, licensing authorities and the police express an interest in using a full range of powers. The hon. Member for Hornchurch criticises the work that Home Office officials and the police do, day in day out, throughout the country in the areas worst affected by alcohol-related disorder, to decide which powers are most applicable and how to use them better. That may involve explaining that the last resort is an alcohol disorder zone, and if that is something that local authorities should be considering, I am sure that it forms part of the discussions. The hon. Gentleman calls the measure a waste of time, but I can assure him that a number of local authorities, including my own, which at the moment is led by his party, welcome the opportunity to have support from the Home Office and the police in making better use of the powers that are available. I do not accept that it would help us in any way to remove the power to create alcohol disorder zones from the statute book, particularly to go down the route suggested by the hon. Gentleman.

The hon. Gentleman talked about the stigma of having an alcohol disorder zone. What about the stigma of an area shown in the newspapers and on the television, and seen by the residents themselves, that has the kind of evening economy that does a disservice to our town and city centres? That has a stigma too, and that is why local authorities should be looking to use every power available.

I turn now to amendment 23. Clause 55 allows local authorities to introduce an order to limit the opening times in their area between 3 am and 6 am. The hon. Gentleman knows that when the Licensing Act 2003 was introduced, the commitment was given to keep the situation under review and, if necessary, to take further action. For the very reasons given by my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South, there is an issue with what happens between 3 am and 6 am. We are taking this measure so that if the emergency services are stretched, or the police are saying that further action should be taken, there is a power to close not one but a number of premises.