Alcohol-related Violence

Question Time — Scottish Executive – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 26th June 2003.

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Photo of Donald Gorrie Donald Gorrie Liberal Democrat 2:30 pm, 26th June 2003

To ask the Scottish Executive what action it will take to tackle alcohol-related violence. (S2O-280)

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

The Scottish Executive will shortly publish the report of the Nicholson committee's review of liquor licensing law. Earlier today, the First Minister and the Minister for Communities announced proposals for inclusion in the antisocial behaviour bill, which include action to tackle problems in licensed premises.

Photo of Donald Gorrie Donald Gorrie Liberal Democrat

Those measures are welcome. Will the minister consider encouraging the police and procurators fiscal to make more use of existing laws to tackle the problem, such as the law against selling alcohol to someone who is already drunk, under which no one is ever prosecuted?

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

I am acutely aware of the issue, which I know the member has raised a number of times. We would want to consider his suggestion when we look at other proposals. I assure him that we will continue to examine such issues to see how best we can make progress. It is clear that we also need to work on a culture change to ensure that educational approaches make a difference.

Photo of Johann Lamont Johann Lamont Labour

I welcome the minister's announcement that the Nicholson committee will report soon and I urge her to act speedily on its recommendations.

The minister will be aware of the impact that poorly run off-licences have on communities, given that they are both a cause of, and a focus for, disorder. I urge the minister to consider legislation to tackle the problem of a licensee being able to continue to trade—even though a licensing board has withdrawn their licence because of problems that their premises have created—simply because they have lodged an appeal, no matter how frivolous that appeal is. That situation causes immense frustration and continuing difficulties for local people.

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

I am highly aware of some of the difficulties in communities. I draw members' attention to the proposals that are contained in the consultation paper that was announced today. As part of that consultation, we are seeking people's views on whether to give police the same right of entry to off-licences and registered clubs that sell alcohol that they have in relation to other licensed premises. That is an important part of a range of options that will ensure that we take quick and effective action in those cases. I am also aware that many communities do not like the fact that they feel that they have no say and no power to object in such circumstances.