Commentator: clamp down on public drunkenness

The law should be better enforced and public drunkenness punished with fines, a commentator at The Times has said.

Libby Purves also called for a tightening of the current licensing system, introduced by Labour, which placed the matter in the hands of local authorities instead of magistrates.

And while the commentator welcomed David Cameron’s plan to introduce minimum pricing as a “tiny nudge” she insisted that more still needs to be done.


She said: “We still have the huge Blairite reverse-nudge, in which licensing was taken from magistrates and given to local authorities with an eye on the business rate and an obvious financial incentive to allow huge, long-hours vertical-drinking clubs in town centres.

“If we really want to tackle habitual drunkenness we should tighten that up sharply, and enforce existing laws. It is an offence to serve alcohol to a person already drunk, to buy it for them, to be disorderly, cause a nuisance, or be inebriated on public transport.

“Fines are from £200 to £1,000; premises licences can be cancelled. How much is enforced? Not nearly enough.”


Libby Purves lamented the current situation saying: “The police patrol, stop fights and save pavement sleepers freezing to death; kindly Christian volunteers in anoraks distribute flip-flops and bottled water.

“It became clear that ‘drunk and disorderly’ no longer warrants arrest unless you actually lash out.”

She added: “The sight of standby ambulances near clubs never ceases to amaze either: since when can grown-ups not go out dancing without expecting routine casualties?”


Last week David Cameron unveiled plans to bring in minimum pricing. He believes that setting a minimum price would reduce crime and alcohol-related deaths.

The move is part of the Government’s Alcohol Strategy which aims to reduce the £21 billion estimated annual cost of irresponsible drinking.