World Cup will be new drinking laws biggest test yet, warns culture secretary

07 June 2006
World Cup will be new drinking laws biggest test yet, warns culture secretary

The culture secretary has warned that this summer's World Cup tournament in Germany is likely to be the biggest test yet of England and Wales's new licensing laws.

Speaking at Parliamentary question time earlier this week, Secretary of State Tessa Jowell said: "Coming up are the combination of light nights and World Cup fever which could well be the supreme test of new licensing laws."

Jowell has promised a nationwide programme of policing and enforcement during the World Cup to clamp down on anti-social binge drinkers and publicans that fail to police customers.

Neil Williams from the British Beer & Pub Association said: "We support any action against pubs that are causing problems. We are well prepared with beefed up security, and food and entertainment available after the games to keep the mood happy."

Introduced last November, the new licensing regime swept away standardised closing time and was widely attacked in the media and police as a recipe for disaster, which would only fuel the country's binge drinking problem.

Although initial figures released by the Home Office in February suggested alcohol related crime had fallen after the introduction of the new licensing regime, the figures were subsequently criticised as a distortion due to far more police than normal being deployed during the period.

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By Alex Kenny

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