I read with incredulity - or should that be with a resigned sigh - that Mr Plod in the shape of London's Commissioner of Police, Bernard Hogan-Howe is calling for fewer pubs in order to combat "alcohol fuelled disorder". Clearly is has escaped his notice that we have lost 13,000 pubs since 2000 and that alcohol consumption has fallen by 18% in a decade. As a matter of fact, the number of arrests in the Metropolitan Police area for offences such as Drunk and Disorderly has remained around the 6000 mark since 2008/09.
Now I don't know about you, but I can't remember when I last saw a fight or other "alcohol fuelled disorder" - well not of the kind of any interest to the bizzies anyway - I don't think talking bollocks round the table counts - either inside or outside a pub. Where such behaviour occurs it is usually in places where many mostly young people gather for late night drinking and loud music.Clearly, to this observer at least, it is these places, not those that most people normal people would regard as "pubs" that are the issue. These are really bars or pseudo night clubs with late licences and are already well known to police and everyone else within a given local area as trouble spots. It is instructive too that Hogan-Howe reckons that councils should disregard development of local economies when handing out more licences. "It's the economy Stupid" clearly is of no concern to him. Nor are the provisions of the Licensing Act 2003 - enacted in November 2005 - which restricts severely the reasons for refusing a premises license, but adds in the provision for restrictions to apply to a license and a complicated system of local licensing objectives. It also gives the police a role in objecting or restricting premises licences where a "negative cumulative impact on one or more of the licensing objectives." can be demonstrated. In other words, as usual, there are enough existing laws and provisions for problems arising from licensed premises and criminal acts outside them to be dealt with.
Hogan-Howe should choose his terminology a lot more carefully. Pubs and local economies should not suffer because the police don't enforce the law. It is not licences to sell alcohol that cause problems. It is people.
One of my more serious posts. It really got on my nerves reading this. In fact I might have to go to the pub now.