HC Deb 02 December 2002 vol 395 cc602-3
9. Mr. John Grogan (Selby)

If he will ensure that all crime and disorder partnerships include measures to combat alcohol-related crime as part of their strategies. [823111

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Blunkett)

Initial analysis of the crime and disorder partnerships shows that some 53 per cent. of them have included prioritisation of alcohol abuse in their policies for reducing crime.

Mr. Grogan

Given that the aims of the Government's Licensing Bill include allowing more flexible hours for pubs and creating a more civilised atmosphere late at night in our town and city centres—making them attractive not just to the young, but to those who are young at heart, such as my right hon. Friend and me—does he agree that it is more important than ever that crime and disorder partnerships prioritise by trying to make the night-time economy as safe as possible?

Mr. Blunkett

I would encourage all crime and disorder partnerships to take a further look at their strategies in view of the real problems of binge drinking. More than half of those who commit crime are seen to have been involved in drink or drugs, and we know that that causes devastation.

On a slightly facetious note, may I congratulate my hon. Friend on his dedicated work for the all-party beer group, which includes getting people to drink sensibly?

Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey)

Given that the Government have had it trailed in the press this week that we are about to have the relaunch of the drugs strategy and that it is widely known that the most recent British crime survey showed that 40 per cent. of violent crimes are fuelled by alcohol, can the Home Secretary tell us when we will get the Government's alcohol strategy, which is hugely important and was trailed nearly five years ago? When will they give crimes fuelled by alcohol equal priority with crimes fuelled by other dangerous drugs?

Mr. Blunkett

The Department of Health and the Home Office are working with the forward strategy unit on developing a proper programme that is integrated with and related to the updated drugs strategy that we will publish this week. I do not disagree with the need to tackle this problem, and I do not think that anyone would, given that a high percentage of stranger violence is committed by people who are under the influence of drink.

Liz Blackman (Erewash)

Is my right hon. Friend aware how effective exclusion orders are in banning perpetrators of violent crime from licensed premises, particularly where partnerships exist between the police, the local authority, magistrates and landlords? Unfortunately, their application is patchy. Will my right hon. Friend take this opportunity to point out again to local crime and disorder partnerships how effective exclusion orders can be and ask them to reconsider using them in their armoury to combat violent alcohol-related crime?

Mr. Blunkett

I should very much like to do that, in conjunction with the proposals in the Licensing Bill. Not least, I commend those alcohol outlets, particularly in city and town centres, which have made an agreement with the police, often using radiocommunications, and are prepared to contribute a little towards making those outlets more attractive. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and I are looking at how to strengthen that.