UK Government

Home Office: New powers to tackle teen drinking come into force

Press Release   •   Feb 01, 2010 11:27 GMT

New powers to tackle underage drinking, including making it easier for police to confiscate alcohol, move on groups of teenagers causing trouble and stop retailers selling to underage children come into effect today.

The powers were introduced through the Policing and Crime Act, which received Royal Assent in November 2009, and can be used from today by police forces across England and Wales.

The powers are:

• confiscating alcohol from young people – by amending police powers to confiscate alcohol so that they no longer need to prove that the individual ‘intended’ to consume the alcohol;

• making it easier to move on groups of young people – by extending the police’s ability to issue ‘Directions to Leave’ so that they can be issued to people aged 10-15; and

• greater power to tackle persistent underage drinkers – by introducing a new offence for under-18s of persistently possessing alcohol in a public place.

• tackling those selling alcohol to children - by changing the offence of persistently selling alcohol to under 18s from three strikes within three months to two strikes in the same period;

Also coming into effect today are tough new powers for local councillors to tackle problem premises. In addition to the police and members of the public, local councillors will now also be able to call for a review to restrict or remove an alcohol retailer’s licence.

Home Office Minister Alan Campbell said:
"Alcohol-related violent crime is down by a third since 1997 but we are continuing to take action through a wide-ranging strategy of enforcement and education.

"The majority of young people are model citizens but there are a minority that are not. These powers will make it easier for police to take tough action against those groups whose behaviour can affect a whole community.

"Alongside this we are challenging young people’s attitudes about binge drinking. Our Know Your Limits campaign continues to make people think about how much they are drinking."


Schools Minister Vernon Coaker said:
"The powers coming in to force today support our work to delay the age at which young people start drinking alcohol. It is right that we give the police tough powers to crack down on the very small minority of young people who are causing problems in their communities.

"We are backing up this enforcement with prevention and support for young people, by providing them with activities and places to go to, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights, so they have positive alternatives to drinking. 

"We are committed to helping families work together to build safe and sensible relationships with alcohol, however for the minority of young people still looking to purchase alcohol, these powers give police the ability to take swift action."”

ACPO lead on licensing Commander Simon O’Brien said:
"The Police Service welcomes these new measures to combat the problem of underage drinkers and those supplying alcohol to them.

"The ability to remove alcohol from underage drinkers and take action against those who, through vulnerability or lack of personal responsibility, regularly misbehave under the influence of alcohol will assist the police in dealing with the complexities of alcohol misuse and misbehaviour.“

The new powers are part of a wider government strategy to tackle underage drinking and associated crime and disorder which was set out in the Youth Alcohol Action Plan, published in 2008.

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. New guidance has also been published today for police forces setting out exactly how the powers should be used.

2. Since publishing the Youth Alcohol Action Plan in 2008 the government has:

• provided £1.4 million to 69 youth crime priority areas in Summer 2009 to crack down on teenage binge drinking during the summer holidays. More than 5,000 litres of alcohol were confiscated. Over 2,400 test purchases were carried out with 349 premises failing;

• set out the proposed conditions of the mandatory code of conduct for alcohol retailers to crack down on irresponsible promotions and practices that encourage binge drinking and will introduce it later this year;

• trained more than 3,500 frontline practitioners, including the police and licensing officers, on the effective use of the full range of tools and powers available to them to tackle alcohol-related crime and disorder;

• launched six pilot Youth Alcohol Arrest Referral projects in Blackpool, East Sussex, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, Newcastle and Staffordshire/Stoke on Trent. Building on the early success of the existing 13 schemes for adults these offer brief interventions to any 10 to 17-year-old who comes into contact with the authorities for alcohol-related reasons;

• continued our successful Know Your Limits advertising campaign with another £2.3million campaign this year designed to drive home the serious consequences of excessive drinking; and

• launched the Why Let Drink Decide? campaign aimed at parents and young people to make them aware of how alcohol can make them vulnerable to risks such as teen pregnancy or violence.

3. For more information contact the Home Office Press Office on 020 7035 3535.

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