It is estimated that alcohol-related crime and disorder costs the UK taxpayer between £8 and £13 billion a year. The mandatory code introduces five conditions for all alcohol retailers which will ensure consistent good practice and crack down on problem premises where irresponsible drinking could put individuals at risk and lead to crime and antisocial behaviour.
The conditions that coming into force today are:
– banning irresponsible promotions such as “all you can drink for £10” offers, women drink free deals and speed drinking competitions. These promotions encourage people to drink quickly or irresponsibly and could lead to crime or antisocial behaviour;
– banning “dentist’s chairs” where drink is poured directly into the mouths of customers making it impossible for them to control the amount they are drinking; and
– ensuring free tap water is available for customers – allowing people to space out their drinks and reduce the risks of becoming dangerously drunk.
The remaining conditions come into effect on 1 October to give retailers time to prepare. They are:
– ensuring all those who sell alcohol have an age verification policy in place requiring them to check the ID of anyone who looks under 18 to prevent underage drinking which can lead to antisocial behaviour and put young people at risk of harm; and
– ensuring that all on trade premises make available small measures of beers, wine and spirits to customers so customers have the choice between a single or double measure of spirits and a large or small glass of wine.
Home Office Minister Alan Campbell said:
“Alcohol-related crime costs the UK billions of pounds every year and while the vast majority of retailers are responsible, a minority continue to run irresponsible promotions which fuel the excessive drinking that leads to alcohol-related crime and disorder.
“The code will see an end to these promotions and ensure premises check the ID of those who appear to be underage helping to make our towns and city centres safer places for those who just want to enjoy a good night out.”
Any premises that breach the mandatory code or any secondary conditions that have been imposed will face a range of possible sanctions including losing their licence, having additional tough conditions imposed on their licence or, on summary conviction a maximum £20,000 fine and/or six months imprisonment.
Following a nationwide consultation in 2008, which generated more than 7,000 responses, the Home Office actively engaged with the alcohol industry to develop the final five conditions and to produce a “best practice” document for all retailers which sets out the best voluntary initiatives that the alcohol industry has produced.
Charlotte Elmer, Heineken UK, said:
“We welcomed the opportunity to participate fully in the consultation process on the mandatory code and found the Home Office to be open and responsive in taking on board industry concerns about some elements of the original draft.
“This partnership working approach has ensured the final version of the Code is proportionate, raising standards by banning the extreme end of promotions, such as drink all you can for £10. We do not believe this kind of deep discounting to drive footfall sits side by side with the promotion of responsible consumption.
“We also welcome the requirement to ensure free tap water and smaller measures are available as another contribution towards making town centres and our night-time economy a welcoming environment for everyone and achieving our shared aim of reduced alcohol-related crime and health harms.”
As well as the new mandatory code the government also introduced Drinking Banning Orders (DBOs) on conviction from 1 April on a phased roll out starting in 25 local justice areas. An order will allow magistrates to ban or prevent an individual who has committed a crime under the influence of alcohol, from entering any premises that sell alcohol.
The power to introduce a mandatory code of conduct for alcohol retailers was granted through the Policing and Crime Act which received Royal Assent in November 2009. The mandatory code was approved by Parliament on 15 March.
The consultation on the mandatory code ran for 13 weeks and was aimed at the public businesses, industry groups and interested organisations. It included a series of regional workshops and focus groups.
Industry good practice guidance, statutory guidance for licensing authorities on the discharge of their functions and “plain English” guidance for retailers and enforcement agencies on what the code contains and the types of promotions it prohibits, is also available on the Home Office website at:
The government announced its intention to create a mandatory code in December 2008, to target irresponsible promotions in pubs, clubs and off-licenses that could lead to alcohol-related crime and disorder. This followed a survey in January 2008 which found a disturbing level of irresponsible and harmful practice along with limited evidence that current social responsibility standards are consistently applied or effective in promoting good practice. In July 2008 the Government undertook a public consultation on a mandatory code. Over 90 per cent of approximately 2,000 respondents supported a mandatory code.
– £8 billion to £13 billion cost of alcohol-related crime and disorder per year, according to Government research;
– nearly half of all violent crime occurs between Friday evening and Monday morning according to the British Crime Survey (BCS);
– a fifth of all violent crime occurs in and around licensed premises according to the 2006/2007 BCS;
– between 2001 and 2008 the BCS has shown violent crime falling but the proportion of alcohol-related violent crime remains static; and
– 87,000 violent incidents involving glasses or bottles, according to the BCS 2007/08.
Drinking Banning Orders (DBOs) on application were introduced nationwide on 31 August 2009 as part of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 to tackle people who repeatedly commit crime or anti-social behaviour while under the influence of alcohol.