HC Deb 17 May 2004 vol 421 cc657-8W
Mr. Austin Mitchell

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what consultations were held with the police about the effects of binge drinking on local alcohol and violence problems before the introduction of the Licensing Act 2003; and what consultations are going on now about its implementation. [173665]

Mr. Caborn

Prior to the publication of the White Paper on licensing reform in April 2000 (Cm 4696), the Association of Chief Police Officers ("ACPO") were thoroughly consulted on the related development of the policy. Following the publication of the White Paper, ACPO, the Association of Police Superintendents' Association and the Police Federation engaged in the public consultation, as well as several individual police forces. In developing the legal instructions for the Licensing Bill, ACPO provided advice to officials in weekly meetings. In July 2002, a Licensing Bill Advisory Group was formed which included a wide range of stakeholders, including ACPO, and assisted the Government in preparing the Bill. The Group met on a weekly basis and continued to meet regularly throughout the Bill's parliamentary stages. Since Royal Assent in July 2003, this Group has continued to meet on a monthly basis to discuss issues relating to the implementation of the Licensing Act 2003. In addition, during the House of Commons stages of the Licensing Bill, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State also met ACPO to discuss underage drinking and the way in which the Bill dealt with children and the then Minister responsible, the hon Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells), also met ACPO to discuss other general licensing issues. More recently, I have met the police in a Working Group which is examining issues relating to alcohol related violent crime.