Councils aren’t using binge drinking powers

Powers given to local authorities to crack down on disorder caused by binge drinking have not been used at all since being introduced two years ago, figures show.

Alcohol Disorder Zones (ADZs) force pubs and clubs in alcohol-related trouble spots to stump up the cash for extra policing to combat the problem.

But according to information obtained by the Conservatives, not one ADZ has been set up.

The figures also show that measures to punish pubs who sell alcohol to drunk people have been used only 160 times since 2005.

The Tories have claimed the findings show little is being done to combat binge drinking.

When ADZs were introduced in 2008 the Government said it envisaged six zones would be set up in the first year alone.

Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary, said “Labour’s 24-hour binge drinking culture has been causing real misery in towns and cities up and down the country, yet despite all the rhetoric and all the headline-grabbing announcements it’s now clear they have done very little to tackle the problem.”

Powers to hand on-the-spot fines to licensed premises found selling alcohol to drunk people were introduced in 2005.

Since then only around one in every 1,000 premises has been fined, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Critics say the power to actually implement an ADZ is embroiled in red tape and bureaucracy.

Police must first give drinkers on-the-spot fines or ban problem drinkers from town centres, and then make attempts to close down any problem pubs using the Licensing Act.

If this fails, they must amass evidence that a street or ‘zone’ is blighted by binge drinking.

Even then, rowdy premises must be given further chances to clean up their act before an ADZ is enforced.

Once a zone is in place licensed premises have to contribute up to a mere £100 towards steps such as increased policing which could help to tackle the binging problems.

Earlier this week it was revealed that alcoholic drinks may be forced to carry health warnings, following a report which showed most drinks were not displaying sufficient warnings under the current voluntary code.

And last week figures showed that supermarkets are continuing to slash the price of alcohol despite accusations that bargain booze deals are helping to fuel Britain’s binge drinking crisis.

At the beginning of the month the Government unveiled changes to its controversial 24-hour drinking laws, but critics said the changes didn’t go far enough.

Council authorities will be able to limit late opening across an entire area, but only between the hours of 3am and 6am, according to the plans.

Last month a survey released by the NHS showed that children as young as eleven are drinking the equivalent of nearly two bottles of wine a week.

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