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Last Updated: Friday, 4 June, 2004, 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK
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One simple way to cut down on binge-drinking and related disorder is to prosecute. Every one of the rowdies shown on tonight's programme should have been prosecuted, not have their charges dropped. Perhaps magistrates can exercise their lost power in the licensing process by doing something to stamp this rowdiness out.

The English country pub is a fine institution, but we will never adopt a continental cafe culture while we have megapub chains dominating our towns and until alcohol is seen as a civilised accompaniment to a family meal even for the very young.

Instead it's seen as a teenage rite of passage and cool and acceptable to get drunk. The attitude of the solicitor and indeed some officers shown interviewing the two men in custody just shows how mistaken we are: sorry, but it is no laughing matter.
Ian, Blackpool

Who will rescue the streets for the older people who fear going to the high street. The law should not be changed it will only make it worse. big pubs are not continental small cafes.
Martin, Devon

This was a telling report: high quality TV. I hope it influences government decisions. Thank you Panorama for highlighting this very worrying problem.
Alissa McBride, Leicester, UK

A very disturbing programme but I cannot understand why you had to broadcast the drink driver passing the alcohol test after drinking 8 bottles of lager. Surely the message given out in that piece of journalism is contradictory to what the programme was about. It gave a very clear message to people "Its safe to Drink and Drive"
Isobel McGrory, Richmond upon Thames, UK

I thought in this day and age the polluter pays. The drinks industry should pay for extra policing and make a contribution toward local crime and disorder partnerships.
Michael, Cardiff

Great programme tonight. I totally agree that the "cafe culture" of the continent is not being created at all in the UK, what we are getting is a lot of large pubs and stronger drinks. My congratulations to the emergency services who deal nightly with the aftermath. Somewhere in the liquor industry there are suppressive persons who are putting profit before all else.
Michael Burton, London, England

Binge drinking has been around for years and the cause is the draconian licence laws
Kevin Chapman, England
The Panorama programme on drinking was one-sided absolute rubbish. Binge drinking has been around for years and the cause is the draconian licence laws. The problem is expatiated by the Police who will lose overtime when sensible laws are allowed.

People have died and will continue to die because thousands of people are thrown on the streets at the same time causing a rush hour when public transport systems do not have a chance to cope just as public transport is unable to cope at the other daily rush hours.

In Europe there is no local problem with 24 hour drinking. The English are mentally on a different time zone caused by the 11pm lunacy, which kills people, but give police officers plenty of overtime. Police are paid for a full shift but only work a few hours to clean up the mess caused by the rush hour.
Kevin Chapman, England

24/7 opening = 24/7 disturbance.
Alex, Milton Keynes, Bucks

Excellent programme. Thanks for challenging the new orthodoxy that we must not say "No" to the alcohol pushers. If laxer licensing is not going to increase alcohol consumption why is the alcohol industry supporting it? Are they really that altruistic?

A lower-energy "greener" society requires less commuting and more people living in town and city centres. But who would want to live in Nottingham city centre?
Jim Saunders, Knighton, Powys, Wales

The essence of going out drinking in Britain is having ten pints, getting laid and having a bag of chips. You cannot transplant cultural values into a society which long ago abandoned the need to respect them. It again highlights the totally mindless legislation which a government has introduced without the need to be socially responsible.
Dil Parmar, Essex

The real problem is the binge drinking culture and an industry intent on exploiting it for profit
Iain, London
Interesting and worrying programme, but I think the focus on extending licensing hours was wrong. I think they are fairly irrelevant to the problem. I lived in Edinburgh in the early 80s where we had near 24 hour drinking then and never saw scenes like those shown tonight.

The real problem is the binge drinking culture and an industry intent on exploiting it for profit. Banning most of the 'happy hour' type promotions, perhaps by setting a minimum price for drinks and making publicans responsible for the behaviour of those who get drunk on their premises (as I believe happens in Australia) would be a couple of steps in the right direction.
Iain, London

Having been a resident of Nottingham for 32 years, I was embarrassed by the portrayal of the City in the evenings and weekends by the Panorama programme. What is clearly evident is the problem of binge drinking, not only in Nottingham, but nationwide which has to be addressed by central and local government as a matter of urgency. Given the major cultural differences and approach to alcohol between Britain and the rest of Europe, I doubt very much that extending the licensing hours so that a more continental style of social drinking can be adopted into this country will work.
Kram, Nottingham, England

18 months ago I was in Australia for the Ashes. In Adelaide I celebrated my 55th Birthday in a 24 hour Sports bar. Lots of Barmy Army around, quite a few Ozzies, not a hint of trouble. When pubs close at the same time and people are hanging around the streets, it is a recipe for disaster. Brits are rightly accused of binge drinking but can't you see that it is the licensing laws that encourage that. People do drink but when they have to do it in a limited time it leads to binges. The relaxed laws where I live will prove it to anyone that wants to see. At first people will go a bit daft because they have been released from a strait jacket.

People come here on holiday and go silly. I live here and can assure you that I don't because I can go out and drink whenever I want. I am not treated like a child. Spanish people have been known to have a drink with breakfast, about 10am. In Britain they would be classed as alcoholics. We as a nation are so immature, so Victorian, that we can't see the nose in front of our faces. Young people have money to spend, they choose to spend it on drink and have only a limited time to spend it. Is it rocket science that I am talking about? Oh look, they are binge drinking! Why are we surprised?
Ken Danbury, Javea Spain

We must be the laughing stock of Europe. Our whole culture needs to change with regards to how we conduct and enjoy ourselves
David Liddell, Blackpool
Up until about 4 years ago, I used to return from the continent and frown about the inflexibility of our Dickensian licensing laws. I have lived in Blackpool for about 4 years now and wouldn't dare walk through the town centre at weekends. Grown adults staggering aimlessly through the streets shouting abuse, urinating in the streets (male and female), designer clothes covered in blood and broken glass everywhere. Dozens of police officers just look on in disbelief just waiting for someone to kick off. I was attacked in a club over a year ago on a Sunday night. The young nurse said to me, do not get ill or attacked at the weekend. It's like the Texas chainsaw massacre in here.

I applaud your report on tonight's programme and quite honestly until we see a more mature way of conducting ourselves, I cannot see any relaxing of licensing laws improving the situation as it is at present. We must be the laughing stock of Europe. Our whole culture needs to change with regards to how we conduct and enjoy ourselves. And more should be done by the greedy drinks industry and drug barons who are cashing in on such a major problem within our society. They should be fined heavily and licences taken away immediately. The army should be sent in to deal with drug dealers as they are destroying the whole fabric of our society and the softer drugs should be legalised and controlled.
David Liddell, Blackpool, Lancashire

Creating a Continental-style cafe society in Britain? Don't make me laugh! In other countries, the night-time economy includes restaurants, theatres, cinemas and clubs as well as bars. What the pub companies have created in our city centres is an infrastructure dedicated to getting as much cheap alcohol as possible down the necks of young drunken idiots.

And, lets face it, Britain has a yob culture; most of the continental countries don't. Enticing hordes of kids into city centres to drink huge amounts of booze is just asking for trouble. The drinks industry should be made to pay for the cost of clearing up the mess they've created.
Chris Lewis, Croydon

Tonight's programme was excellent - footage of drunkeness, with the underlying question of: "Should alcohol peddlers pay the cost of the consequence of their salesmanship?"

Well I work in the Financial services industry. Insurance companies are paying compensation to policyholders who have been affected by the consequence of an endowment product sale. Such compensation was brought about by government pressure, due to the overall affect on "society/the economy"

So it's a no brainer. If alcohol sold aggressively/cleverly by brewery companies has an adverse effect on society, the companies peddling this stuff must pay. So they must pay for "policing". Let them sell their ware 24/7 if they wish BUT pay for the "policing" of the consequences of such selling. They would quickly identify customers whom they would not wish to be associated with.
David Sime, Great Bookham, Surrey

Your programme was well made and truthful but just exactly where is this Utopian "continent" where people sit out in pavement cafes till late into the night. I have travelled all over Europe to many cities and by 11pm most places are closing up all over Europe. It is a myth to pretend that "pavement cafes" stay open till the early hours. The way they stop drunken behaviour in France is to charge 5 - 8 per pint.
Mike Wright, London, England

If the government wants to create a continental style cafe culture, then all the bars and clubs should be filled with tables, chairs, have nice little patios, serve drinks not designed to be downed in a couple of minutes, and replace the loud booming music with calm, chilled, relaxing music.

By creating a 24 hour version of what we have at the moment we aren't moving towards a continental style culture. We are provoking and I'd say actively encouraging 'binge drinking'. It is a sorry state of affairs!
Tim, York

Recent research showed half of violent crime in this country was alcohol related. Without a doubt, alcohol causes more misery than cigarettes. So why does government and various bodies always look at the ills of cigarettes while completely ignoring the more dangerous ills of alcohol?! It kills more people and is financially more destructive to the state (policing, hospitalisation, vandalism etc.)
Adem, London

What this country needs to do is to charge liquor outlets for the additional police and paramedic time
Phil Warn, Orpington
I am not surprised that Nottingham City Council found themselves unwilling to comment about 356 liquor outlets in a square mile. What this country needs to do is to charge liquor outlets for the additional police and paramedic time and the cost of medical treatment required by those involved in incidents as graphically displayed by this programme tonight.

I am not convinced that the British will react favourably to continental Europe licensing laws. If at all possible I would like to see the tax payer being able to opt out of additional council and income tax for drink induced incidents.
Phil Warn, Orpington, Kent, England

Caution, Caution, Caution. The most used word in tonight's Panorama programme. Is it keeping crime figures down or keeping paperwork down? All the time that these teenage hoodlums know that they can do what they want, where they want and their greatest risk is "getting told off" or as the police call it "cautioned" the police will never have control of alcohol filled city centres. I am 37-years-old, I wouldn't have dared behave badly 20 years ago at 17 or 18, but if I was a teenager now and knew categorically that I could misbehave without fear of prosecution what would I do, I really don't know?!
Simon Grant, Ashford, Kent

How disappointing that the local council did not have the courage to appear to defend their woeful record of opposition to this mass drinking culture
John, Isleworth

Your programme concurred with my experience of many towns in this country, even worse in my home town of Barrow-in-Furness. However, one answer is staring us in the face and that is the taboo subject of drugs. You tend not to get violence from people using what's termed as recreational drugs. Just ask London taxi drivers which venues they'd prefer to pick up from.

If the government licensed production of recreational drugs so they could be bought at a sensible, known strength, a known purity, you would cut a hell of a lot of crime, violence and death at a stroke. Let's not forget, alcohol and nicotine are drugs just the same, both are killing thousands, drink tends to make people violent. As people take drugs, and always have, why not licence the more peaceful varieties. This would also allow research into refining them to be safer.
Craig, Slough, Berkshire

I don't think that anyone actually believes that extended licensing hours will calm binge drinking or turn us into a cafe society. Those who do believe this must be those who do not actually drink regularly in pubs. They may dream about turning us into euro friendly wine drinkers, but will actually be creating a living hell for the police, ambulance drivers, etc. Anybody else backing this scheme is probably paid for by the pub chains, an alcoholic, or a government minister (or maybe all three).
Andy Fortnum, Market Harborough, UK.

I was disappointed that no comment was made about the effect this drink culture has on other people. The centre of my city is a no go area in the evening, especially at the weekend. I am not easily intimidated but feel for people who are, as groups of youths can be aggressive even without alcohol. The other big problem is the broken glass that is littering the pavements and presents a very real danger. The government need to be more responsible and remember that a lot of their voters are not young drinkers.
Barbara Lamb, Aberdeen

We currently have a binge drinking problem. We do not know for sure the outcome of the 24 hour licences due next year, but the evidence from Ireland, New Zealand, Scandinavia etc suggests it will probably make the problem worse. Surely on that basis we should reverse the decision, or at the very least restrict it to a limited pilot scheme, with the outcomes closely monitored.
Allan, Sevenoaks

I am a resident of Nottingham and found the programme to be a shockingly accurate account of the way the city works at night
Chris Summerlin
I just felt compelled to offer praise for the programme I just watched. I am a resident of Nottingham and found the programme to be a shockingly accurate account of the way the city works at night. I am 26 and so far from being someone who feels they should comment on something they are not part of, I am regularly out in the city centre after midnight.

As one gentleman pointed out, the night culture of this city evolves around getting drunk to forget about the week you just had and hopefully "getting your leg over" and when that doesn't happen you beat up someone or something.

Simply getting home from a night out becomes something of a mission of stealth and cunning as the market square and surrounding area resembles such a zoo after midnight. My housemate works in the emergency room at the Queens Medical Centre and I think from her stories that the statistics given that stated around 70% of those admitted were admitted because of drink related incidents was something of an understatement.

Also the appalling litter problem the city has is largely down to the mess created on a Friday and Saturday night. I think something that maybe should be noted about this city is that much of the increase in drinking and people in the town centre at night stems from the slow but consistent increase in the student population and the conflict this causes with local people as both parties get more and more drunk and so become resentful of the other. Anyway, a fantastic programme.
Chris Summerlin, England

What the UK's got isn't Continental style drinking. Firstly the police here in Belgium have much heavier weaponry on call, running from personal small-arms to water-cannons, routinely use barbed-wire crowd-control barriers, and aren't afraid to use any or all of them.

Even the bouncers are often armed. They don't need waffle-powers, and they aren't pussy-cats. Diss the authorities at your risk, they're likely to throw a charge of rebellion at you without any more ado, which co-incidentally allows them to shoot without any more fuss.

Secondly, continental booze is stronger, so bladders don't get as full. Thirdly, the rest of the clientele will get rid of a drunk, as he's putting them at real risk. So the result is no problems, because everyone's grown up and the idiots are out.
Jel, Brussels

All local authorities must by law (Section 17 of 1998 Crime and Disorder Act) take into account the effects on crime and disorder of every decision they make. If they ignore the advice and evidence put forward by the local police when issuing a liquor license, that decision could be subject to a challenge in the High Court.
Charles Joyce, King's Lynn England

Andy Davies' report showed the shameful scenes of what is happening in our town and city centres every weekend. This is before the government introduces increased opening hours for pubs and clubs. This is the road to disaster in my view. The police and ambulance service are at the sharp end and know all to clearly what the result is going to be.

I was shocked to hear that both of these parties do not seem to have been listened to by government and local magistrates. There are far too many licensed premises in one area. This is being ignored. The police and ambulance service are continually called to drink related incidents. This costs the NHS billions of pounds every year. This must stop. The government must think again on this very serious issue.
Steve Fuller, Hove, England

In Derby on a Friday or Saturday you cannot get a police officer if a crime occurs outside the city centre due to the requirement to police 18-25 year olds getting drunk and causing crime. It is so bad older people and families cannot go to the city centre at weekends.
Stuart Adam, Derby

I agree that the decision of the licensing laws should be up to the discretion of the local authorities as opposed to the government on the whole. I personally disagree with the 24 hour law. As if we don't have enough problems with alcohol at the moment.
Nichola Cross, Gloucestershire, UK

The government may wish to relax the licensing laws to match continental style drinking, however drinkers on the continent do not generally urinate on the streets, in shop doorways nor do they drop litter everywhere.
Steven Hodson, Leyland, United Kingdom

If the drinks industry think they are promoting drinking in such a sensible manner, then let them foot the bill for all drink related incidents other than in a private home - this to include, policing, NHS and even street cleaning.
Dave Miller, Bristol

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SEE ALSO:
Cldnt Give a XXXX 4 Lst Ordrs
24 May 04 |  Panorama
Alcohol in the UK: 10 facts
03 Jun 04 |  Panorama


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