Ruffley calls for action to stop soaring levels of Suffolk alcohol-related crime

Tuesday, 25 January, 2005

We must postpone the introduction of reckless new licensing laws

David Ruffley MP this week added his voice to growing concern over the introduction of new licensing laws, which will allow an explosion in late night drinking. A senior judge has warned that town centres across Britain are becoming 'revolting and dangerous places' and young people are being turned into 'urban savages' because of the rise in alcohol-fuelled violence. David raised this issue when he appeared on Andrew Neill's 'Daily Politics' show on 11 January.

Analysis of Home Office crime figures has revealed that the number of violent attacks across St Edmundsbury have soared by over 50% since 1999, and by more than 100% in the Mid Suffolk District area- with alcohol a key cause. Criminal damage across Suffolk has risen by a staggering 62% since 1999.

David said:

'We all know of the problems that exist, not just in our major cities, but in twons across the country, including Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket, when alcohol is taken in excessive amounts. The consequences of binge drinking are very serious. Yet Mr Blair is content to unleash 24 hour drinking on our towns and cities which will only make this problem worse.

'That is why I have written to charities, religious groups and concerned local residents to make them aware of the proposed changes and the possible dangers.

'The Government must delay 24-hour opening until we conquer binge drinking. Only Conservatives will take action, enforcing zero tolerance policing and giving local councils the proper powers to tackle these problems.'

Under the policies proposed by Conservatives:

• Local councils will have greater discretion over licensing hours, rather than having to follow Whitehall diktats. This will mean local residents will have a greater say.

• There should be stronger powers to control late licences to prevent disorder hotspots, where they are too many bars or pubs in a vicinity.

• Councils should have the ability to prohibit 'all you can drink' promotions, where young people are encourage to binge drink on free drinks after paying a one-off entrance fee.

• Suffolk will receive 379 extra police officers, and red-tape will be cut to get more police offices back on the beat.