I’m not the slightest bit critical of Lancashire Police’s failed attempt to apply for an ‘Early Morning Alcohol Restriction Order’ (EMRO), which would have banned drinking after 3am in part of Blackpool’s town centre.
It was a worthy attempt to address some of the serious crimes and incidents of anti-social behaviour that blight the area.
However, I do agree with the decision made by Blackpool Council to reject the proposal. Clamping down on drinking at 3am is very much like putting the cart before the horse, because the clamping down on excess drinking needs to happen much earlier in the evening. The best way to stop the drunken violent debauchery in our towns and cities is to enforce current legislation and learn from other countries which are succeeding in dealing with similar problems. In Australia, all owners of licensed premises and their staff must be trained and qualified to serve alcohol. If they are found serving drunken customers they can lose their Responsible Service of Alcohol Certificate and find themselves unable to work in the industry.
In certain parts of Canada, licensees can be held liable for some drink-related criminal offences committed by customers after they have left their premises. This approach puts more onus on the owners and staff to promote sensible drinking. It doesn’t completely stop unlawful drunken acts but it has succeeded in reducing them.
The other major issue which needs clearing up is the current definition of ‘drunk and disorderly’. Over the years it has become more acceptable for people to get completely plastered and unable to walk. They roll around on the floor, throwing up, swearing and are often treated as a medical issue rather than an illegal nuisance. That is especially true of drunken woman who are far less likely to be arrested than their male counterparts. That comment may wind some people up but it’s true!
One way of restoring law and order is for people to have a clearer understanding of what is an unacceptable level of public drunkenness and for the police then to be supported in strictly enforcing those standards.
That’s not going to happen because the police would be accused of being heavy handed and an increasing number of people see it as their inalienable human right to be totally wasted and disorderly in public.