HC Deb 07 November 2002 vol 392 cc560-1W
Dr. Francis

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how she estimates the removal of licensing jurisdiction from the courts to the local authorities will contribute to the Government's aims to(a) reduce crime and the fear of crime and (b) increase public confidence. [78685]

Dr. Howells

The Government are confident that the proposed transfer of responsibility for alcohol licensing from licensing justices to local authorities will assist its efforts to reduce crime and the fear of crime. Since 1998 local authorities have had a leading statutory role in preventing local crime and disorder and the link between alcohol and crime is therefore a strong argument for them taking responsibility for alcohol licensing.

The transfer of responsibility should not however be considered in isolation. The Government's proposed Alcohol and Entertainment Licensing Bill will also include a whole package of measures designed to reduce crime and the fear of crime. These will include providing the police with extended powers to close pubs, clubs and off-licences that create disorder. The Bill will strengthen the law on the sale of alcohol to under-18s and will give the police greater powers to confiscate alcohol in certain public areas. It will abolish the artificially early closing times that are the source of much of the trouble on our streets at night and there will be enhanced police powers to confiscate alcohol. Local residents will also be able to object to any premises licence application, or request a review of a licence that has been granted, if they have concerns about that licence in relation to crime.