Summer drinking 'to test' new booze laws

POLICE chiefs declared the summer as the “acid test” for the new drinking laws as they launched a major crackdown on booze-fuelled disorder.Suffolk Constabulary yesterday unveiled a summer zero tolerance campaign against alcohol related crime across the county which includes targeting drink drivers and drunken yobs.

By Danielle Nuttall

POLICE chiefs declared the summer as the “acid test” for the new drinking laws as they launched a major crackdown on booze-fuelled disorder.

Suffolk Constabulary yesterday unveiled a summer zero tolerance campaign against alcohol related crime across the county which includes targeting drink drivers and drunken yobs.

Traditionally, offences of disorder and anti-social behaviour peak during the summer due to warmer weather and longer daylight hours.


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Although the new licensing regulations, which allow 24-hour drinking at some venues, have so far failed to make an impact on alcohol related crime, police say the next five months will be the real test.

Ch Supt David McDonnell, head of operations for Suffolk Constabulary, said there had been fears of a huge increase in violence after the new drinking laws were introduced in November.

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But he added: “From our perspective, that has not been the case. What we tended to have is the same number of incidents but spread over a longer period of time. That presents its own challenges in policing but by and large, so far, it seems to have gone quite well.

“The summer will be the acid test. It depends if we get a long hot summer and successful run in the World Cup then that will test the law and we will see whether it works or whether it does not. We want to make it a success.”

The crackdown, which will run until the end of September, coincides with the start of the Government's nationwide Alcohol Misuse Enforcement Campaign 4 (AMEC4) and will include tackling alcohol related crime during the World Cup celebrations, reducing the number of weapons on the streets during a five-week amnesty and re-launching the Crackdown drugs hotline to mark its 10th anniversary.

It will also clamp down on drink drivers and boost the safety awareness of partygoers.

“We want people to enjoy the summer and its events, including the World Cup, but not to the detriment of others,” said Ch Supt McDonnell.

“Historically during the summer months, with the longer nights and warmer weather, there is a tendency for people to consume greater amounts of alcohol and those who take this further and choose to ruin other people's enjoyment through anti-social and reckless behaviour will be dealt with either through a fine or an arrest.”

Police will also be clamping down on licensees as part of the hard hitting campaign.

“We have extensive powers under the new law and we will use them. If you run what is a disorderly house we will close you down,” said Ch Supt McDonnell.

“We are still working with the clubs. We do not support any initiative to encourage people to drink far more and quickly. It's a difficult challenge for the clubs but by and large, they have been very co-operative and very responsible.”

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