Blunkett keeps up pressure on pubs

11 October 2004
Blunkett keeps up pressure on pubs

Home Secretary David Blunkett has warned the pub industry that it remains on probation.

Speaking in Plymouth last week at the end of the Home Office summer crackdown on alcohol-fuelled violence, Blunkett said: "I am determined to tackle the irresponsible and illegal selling of alcohol identified during the campaign.

"The Home Office will be writing to individual companies which have been caught as repeat offenders to ask them what they intend to do to address irresponsible and illegal selling of alcohol."

Of 30,500 premises visited during the operation - 23,570 of which were on-trade - only 4% were found to have committed an offence.

However, of 1,825 sting operations mounted on pubs between the beginning of July and the end of August, about half were caught selling alcohol to under-18s.

"The Government is on a mission to address binge-drinking," said Nick Bish, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers. "But the more fuss they make the more it seems the norm. In reality it's a cultural issue and an ongoing specific problem for town centres. Hitting stationary targets such as pubs, which have deep pockets, is not the way to solve it."

The British Institute of Innkeeping welcomed the crackdown, while reminding the Government that a partnership approach with the pub industry remained the only way to combat problem drinking.

"The majority of licensees are responsible and they are not the problem, but the solution," said chief executive John McNamara.

Blunkett has promised further crackdown operations "at regular intervals over the coming months".

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