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Wednesday, 19 July, 2000, 17:45 GMT 18:45 UK
Should drinking be allowed on the streets?

For many people, the ideal end to the working week is a cool beer on a summer's evening with fellow revellers, spilling outside the local pub.

But that may come to an end with the introduction of a new bye-law in Liverpool which will allow police officers to seize glasses and open bottles of alcohol from people on the streets, even if they are not drinking from them.

The bye-law aims to reduce violence by stopping drunken people from using glasses and bottles as violent weapons.

What do you think? Will this help police to rid the streets of alcohol-related crime and loutish behaviour or will it serve only to dampen the enjoyment of innocent revellers?

HAVE YOUR SAY Licensing laws are about the only thing that could do with a bit of harmonisation across Europe. Why is that British drinkers have to be told when it is time to go to bed by the government?
Anthony Pask, UK


Perhaps the authorities should look at the real problem in that pubs close at 11pm

Rob, USA
I do not see what is the harm in drinking on the street. Perhaps the authorities should look at the real problem in that pubs close at 11pm. If the pubs were still open at that hour people would choose to remain inside. You may talk about America's laws as being stifling, but it's worth the wait to be 21 to be able to drink in a bar if you can stay out until 3 am to do it. I always have to change my habits while in England, here in America we do not leave for the bars until the 11 o'clock hour.
Rob, USA

I must say that I agree with Russ B. Nice one mate! The licensing laws in this country are ridiculous. I, like many people in the U.K now find myself working late on a regular basis and to have pubs closing at 11pm is just plain stupid. I often cannot get to the pub until about 10pm,and have to drink as much as I can in an hour. Some people might think that's daft but so what? My friends and I are in professional jobs, earn good money and don't cause any trouble, unlike some people who obviously can't handle their drink.
Darren L, England

Sorry Graeme from England. Kate is right. The last thing most people want is to have to breath in clouds of exhaust fumes from couldn't-give-a-damn smokers. Drinking outside should be allowed when sitting at tables of licensed bars, and is a fine way to spend a summer evening, unless of course there's some idiot sitting next to you waving his cigarette in front of your nose (but away from his of course).
Don, Germany


Puritanical "America"? Wake up!

Alastair, UK
Puritanical "America"? Wake up! Our politicians have been slavishly aping the republican movement in the US for decades. Not all of it's bad mind you... like banning drunken scum from staggering around the streets. One day they'll ban cigarettes from the streets too, I hope.
Alastair, UK

From your comments I gather you don't drink Zoe Gill well I happen to love going down the pub and having a lot of drink rather then spending all my waking hours on the internet or whatever else you do
Andrew Ford, UK

Kate from England's typically totalitarian reaction to such insignificant trivialities (a slight whiff of cigarette smoke outdoors) is the sort of attitude likely to bring about the sort of draconian behavioural laws like they have in the US - where you seem to get a ticket if you dare to deviate from what the State decrees as proper behaviour. We already have laws about drunk and disorderly, threatening behaviour ..etc. It's not the law that needs changing it's the pathetic legal system that does nothing to punish transgressor's on "minor" offences.
Graeme, England


Most people won't object to finishing their drink before they go outside

Clare Ashton, UK
I think the new bye-law is a good idea. Most people won't object to finishing their drink before they go outside, and they will usually react favourably if the police approach them. The powers are there as a last resort, to prevent all these incidences of completely avoidable scarring due to fighting on the streets leading to the use of glass bottles and glasses as weapons
It may be an idea to extend the plastic glasses idea to the bottles that the alcohol is contained in. We might prevent glasses being used, but there is nothing to stop people who have a mind to, injuring others using a bottle instead. If they want to injure, they will find a weapon somewhere. Plastic bottles as well as glasses will reduce their choice
Clare Ashton, UK

When England's licensing laws are changed to match the rest of Europe then the problem will be reduced, because at the moment the pubs shut at 11.00pm which is absolutely stupid. Everyone, including myself, has to go out at around 8.00-9.00pm and chuck as much down your throat as possible. When you are able to go out at 11.00 and drink till 6/7 then there will be a change, no longer will around 2000+ people come crashing out the pubs drunk as hell wanting to battle each other because people will drink at there own pace. Now I understand my comments will attract ridicule but I'm just being realistic
Russ B, UK

No, drinking is a really disgusting habit. If you drink on the streets it will encourage younger people to drink.
Zoe Gill, England


Why don't these supporters of a sterile policed state just go to America - with its alcohol, smoking and human touch-free society

Vlad, UK
What a great idea! Why don't these supporters of a sterile policed state just go to America - with its alcohol, smoking and human touch-free society? There's plenty of room there. And just leave us here in Europe stick to our ways. By the way, I could never understand a reason for British pubs to stop serving drinks after 11pm. Every now and again I can only make it to the pub at about this time... This problem doesn't exist anywhere else in Europe
Vlad, UK

Only slobs and barbarians would drink in the streets. What is wrong with the UK is that there only enjoyment is alcohol. The decline of the UK s began over 200 years ago and continues today. Three Cheers for Europe and Scandinavia.
PD, UK

Why should the rest of us be punished for the acts of the few as usual? Will this law mean that my friends and myself can't go to the park on a summers day and have a picnic and a few bottles of wine/beer? Will we all be forced to stand inside a pub on a summers day? This law will have to be very carefully thought out to be acceptable, if at all. There are already by-laws which allow the police to intervene in loutish behaviour. We'll be living in a police state soon the way things are going. The cause needs to be looked at, not the symptoms. I agree that the louts need to be sorted out but we should not all be punished because of the few.
Jan, UK


I think it is a law which could cause a lot more trouble than it prevents

David, UK
I think it is a law which could cause a lot more trouble than it prevents. Are all these "yobs" going to be happy at giving over their drink to a police officer? Imagine a couple of police officers trying to remove drinks from a wandering mob and how something like that could go wrong. Zero tolerance approaches are harmful because they remove common sense judgement from law enforcement. It forces confrontation when that may not be the best resolution.
David, UK

We have had a similar by-law in Coventry for the last 10-12 years. As a result, we don't have the problem of drunks and winos congregating in the city centre to share a bottle of whatever, the city centre is no longer overrun with drunken youths brandishing bottles or glasses and everyone knows where they stand. Nobody feels discriminated against, anyone who wants to sit and drink in the cafe bars still can and anyone who over indulges, is only in danger of a severe hangover and not posing a threat to others.
Penny, UK

Responsible people should be allowed to have a drink outside on a summer evening and hooligans should be banned from purchasing alcohol.
Taggart, England


It's rather simple, enact the same sort of law they have here in New Orleans.... put it in a plastic "go-cup"

Jim, USA
It's rather simple really, if you are worried about broken glass, enact the same sort of law they have here in New Orleans.... Put it in a plastic "go-cup" and let them take it where they will. The street sweepers have an easier time of it as the plastic cups (which invariably end up on the ground) are much easier to clean up than broken glass.
Jim, USA

I live in the London Borough of Wandsworth, where drinking in the streets has been banned for many years. Frankly, I can't see that it makes very little difference.
Alex S, UK

I would think this is a good idea, as long as we don't go the same way as the American's. It ridiculous where you can drive a car at 16 in some States, but can't drink alcohol until you're 21. I know I'd be more worried about a 16-year-old behind the wheel, than a drunk 16 year old. It would seem, the high age limit is also the cause of their problems with gangs - the kids have no where to go. As long as people aren't causing trouble or disrupting others through their drinking, then they should be allowed to drink on the streets/parks or whatever...
Simon, England


If people get drunk and commit crimes - that's when you arrest them, but not on the off chance.

Dan Peters, UK
Has no one learned from prohibition? The more you make something like this illegal the more its becomes a criminalised underground. This nanny state anti-liberty law is just pouring petrol on a fire. If people get drunk and commit crimes - that's when you arrest them, but not on the off chance.
Dan Peters, UK

This by-law has been in place where I live for years. It has proved to be a good idea. People either stay in pubs or clubs or drink at home. The occasional few do go against it but are usually 'advised' by the police.
Marina, North Scotland

At last, a workable idea! Why not grab the drunken yob as well? Unfortunately, a substantial minority of people in England can't be sensible about their drinking. If someone is hauled up three times on charges of public drunkenness their achievement should be advertised in the local paper.
Henbane, UK


The social cost of alcohol consumption far outweighs that of tobacco use.

Ross Smith, Canada
Here in Alberta it is illegal to consume alcohol in a public place or in a private car even if the consumer is not the driver. It doesn't stop drunkenness or the social consequences of it. Perhaps it will take a few lawsuits against the alcohol industry like those levied against the tobacco industry to shake things up. The social cost of alcohol consumption far outweighs that of tobacco use.
Ross Smith, Canada

Surly the problem is violence, associated with drinking in the streets. Why not make that illegal! That way fun and drinking in the streets remains perfectly (and rightly so) legal.
Adam Pridmore, UK

Social drinking is one lesson I think England could learn from its European partners. Why does the problem exist in the first place?
Dr Jon B, Sweden

It would be a start! Banning smoking in the street would be good too.
Andy Trigg, England

Having a drink outside in the summer, on a street side cafe or outside a pub/bar, is a nice way to end a workday or enjoy a Sunday afternoon. I think that there is a big difference with this scenario compared to a bunch of "drunken louts" causing trouble while walking around with cans and bottles in their hands.
Helen, USA (ex UK)


This assumes that people with glasses and bottles naturally become violent!

Ceri and Rolf, Germany
This assumes that people with glasses and bottles naturally become violent! This is absurd. Will the police take cars away from people, just in case they run someone over? The UK needs to take a more pragmatic approach to alcohol consumption or ban it altogether. Alcohol is NOT the cause of violence, and you can't cure an illness by dealing with the symptoms.
Ceri and Rolf, Germany

Alcohol alone is not the problem, the problem is people's attitude. There's a big difference between having "a few drinks" and getting "completely smashed".
Anthony, New Zealand

Firstly the licensing laws have an effect in forcing drinkers to stop at 11:30pm or go somewhere hideously expensive. Secondly the beer, which is mostly what is consumed, has a revolting mixture of chemicals and gases which greedy brewers put into keg beer in order to stop it going off. I have serious suspicions that keg beer has a behavioural affect on those who consume it - I have seen it and have experienced it myself where a few pints of lager or keg bitter leave a person boisterous if not aggressive. Perhaps some research and a revival of real ale would cure part of the problem.
James Denning, UK


It was clear from the start that hooliganism and drunkenness went hand in hand

Tom Byrne, USA
It was clear from the start that hooliganism and drunkenness went hand in hand. What surprises me was that it took so long for the authorities in the UK to muster the political will to resolve this problem. If this law doesn't work, then the extra step should be taken of shutting down all bars within the vicinity of the sporting event. Many locales in the US took the step to ban all alcohol sales at sporting events, so now even the most intense matches between old rivals are relatively safe and sober events.
Tom Byrne, USA

Drinking itself is not the problem; it's the behaviour that goes with it that is. As previous people have pointed out, there isn't much wrong with people having a glass of wine or lager with a meal outside a cafe, but a group of yobs acting aggressively, whether they have drinks or not, is unacceptable behaviour. There are already laws available to deal with this so leave well alone.
Trevor H, UK

Alcohol is a drug and should be kept out of children's reach. Children - being anyone under 30 years!
Mark Ellis, England

As a Brit living in California, I can wholeheartedly agree with banning the consumption of alcohol in public. California has not become a "puritanical police state" but a more beautiful, cleaner and more respected environment, just like beautiful England deserves. The same goes for smoking!
John, USA/ UK

By and large, it is illegal to drink in public in North America. You can still sit outside establishments and drink. You can also be refused service by the servers for being too drunk. While we have had, increasingly in later years, problems with public violence, it does not seem quite as bad as what I read about in the UK. Perhaps the English should try to find the root causes of the anti-social behaviour of your youth.
Collin, Canada

Assuming the police are to be trusted, give them the law then they can use their discretion on enforcing it or not.
Ian Potter, Thailand


Living in an area where drunks make parts of the town untenable each Friday and Saturday night, I am inclined to think that this would be a price worth paying

John Pearce, UK
You ask if a law against drinking on the street will help to rid our streets of drunken louts or dampen the enjoyment of innocent drinkers. This is surely a false alternative, as it seems obvious to me that it will do both. Living in an area where drunks make parts of the town untenable each Friday and Saturday night, I am inclined to think that this would be a price worth paying. We also need sanctions which would really -barring people from licensed premises for a month would be a start. It ought not to be beyond the police to devise a way of enforcing this. If then people wish to drink to excess they would have to do so in their own homes and puke on their own carpets.
John Pearce, UK

Just ban alcohol completely, problem solved, the world would be a much happier place and millions would be saved in health services, police time and human misery.
Andy Harler, UK

Phil Saum is right! Why on Earth do we want to follow the American example of conservative drinking laws? This is a society where 18 year olds can get sent into war to die for their country, but they have to be 21 to legally drink anything alcoholic! If we are to combat alcoholism the American way, then I want no part of it!
Robert, Wales


'The British decease' will still be with us. It's all to do with attitude

John Screech, Hong Kong
Whilst I agree that banning the consumption of alcohol in the street will help curb the violence and 'yobbish' behaviour associated with drunkenness, the underlying problem of 'The British decease' will still be with us. It's all to do with attitude. Here in Hong Kong you can buy alcohol freely 24 hours a day from a variety of pubs, clubs and shops. Drunkenness? Yes it does happen here. Drink induced yob violence? extremely rare, and in 10 years I can count on one hand the number of times I have witnessed drink related violent behaviour. And the nationality of these yobs? I think you can guess.
John Screech, Hong Kong

There's nothing worse than seeing drunks in the street, but does this new rule mean that the law abiding members of society who like to drink will be affected. Personally there's nothing better than sitting outside with a beer in the sun. They can do it on the European mainland so why can't we have beers on the street outside a bar? These restrictive laws regarding drinking are what cause all the problems.
Steve, England


There is a difference between enjoying a pint and being a vomiting, foul-mouthed, violent yob and since sadly many people cannot make out the distinction themselves, the law should.

Peter C. Kohler, USA
Whilst normally loathe to endorse anymore government regulation of people's lives, I must confess to be appalled at the prevailing drink culture in the UK. There is a difference between enjoying a pint and being a vomiting, foul-mouthed, violent yob and since sadly many people cannot make out the distinction themselves, the law should.
Peter C. Kohler, USA

I live in Newbury where they have had a similar bylaw for a couple of years now and it works really well. There are no more drunks hassling people for change, or broken bottles and cans left on the streets. The whole place is a lot more pleasant. We do still have beer gardens, barbecues, etc. as before.
Andy S., England

I'm not sure I follow the argument that law-abiding people would be punished by this ruling. The only people I have ever seen walking along the streets swigging bottles of beer have been drunken yobbos!
Ed Bayley, USA (English)


Once again, government tries to get votes by attacking the symptom rather than the cause.

Benjamin, UK
It would be amusing to see what effect such a law would have in Brighton, where I live. Bars and clubs occupy a large stretch of the beachfront, with outside areas on the beach to drink in. A lot of the pubs in town have tables on the pavements and squares too. Once again, government tries to get votes by attacking the symptom rather than the cause. Perhaps if they tackled the reasons for binge drinking and the subsequent violence they wouldn't need to bring in such restrictive laws. I agree with Wendy, lets not turn into Singapore.
Benjamin, UK

Oh rot. If it's legal it's legal. Disallowing it will not stop people getting drunk indoors and then doing whatever they would have done anyway outdoors. Anyway, lighten up. Let's not turn the UK into California/Singapore!
Wendy, UK

Yet another way to penalise the law-abiding public! Wouldn't it be much better to tackle the cause of the problem rather than just the symptom?
Gary Dale, England


Slapping people with summons for consuming alcohol in public places has only improved New York City's quality of life

Guru Shenoy, United States
'Zero tolerance' is the concept that the New York Police implemented. It makes perfect sense. Nip the crime at the bud. Over consumption (not just a couple of shots) leads people to act stupidly and engage in a disorderly conduct in a public place. This is not the signs of a good civil society. And in slapping people with summons for consuming alcohol in public places has only improved New York City's quality of life. It only feels uncomfortable in the beginning, but once everyone gets used to it, you see the difference in not having to put up with drunk idiots walking the streets pestering people.
Guru Shenoy, United States

Since the powers only appear to extend to open bottles, presumably if someone hits you with an unopened bottle it won't cause any damage?
Willy Davidson, UK

I think the main problem is that which results from glassing incidents, when glasses and glass bottles are used as weapons to slash at people's faces. A better solution therefore would be to force pubs and bars to use toughened glass which shatters in such a way that it can't be used as a weapon. Also to attempt to confiscate drinks may well cause more aggravation.
James, UK

This doesn't work unless a distinction is made between people drinking peacefully and people being disruptive and anti-social. The distinction is the awkward part - the definition of where to draw the line between peaceful and disruptive will cause this legislation to be either abandoned or farcical.
John B, UK

At last! It's about time this was introduced in the UK. It will make walking about in the streets safer for the rest of the population.
K. Jackson, USA ex UK

I think that this is a good idea, as many people feel intimidated by the drunk in the street, or those who walk around, swinging glass bottles and being loud.
Mariel Osborn, UK


If anybody opposing this byelaw saw somebody being bottled or glassed in the face, they would soon change their minds and support the new law

Tristan Abbott-Coates, UK/ USA
If anybody opposing this byelaw saw somebody being bottled or glassed in the face, they would soon change their minds and support the new law. I hope it spreads throughout the rest of Britain.
Tristan Abbott-Coates, UK/ USA

Drinking alcohol from plastic containers should be allowed on the street only if sitting around tables outside the establishment where the alcohol was purchased. On foot drinking should be banned.
Brian Langfield, UK

If anyone is creating a public nuisance, whether with alcohol or anything else, there are surely sufficient existing laws to deal with the situation without having to enact yet another!
Mark M. Newdick, USA/ UK

Although this doesn't seem fair, it surely will lead to a decrease in drunken incidents.
Zheljko Stanimirovic, Yugoslavia

What, and make our country like America? A puritanical police state where all drinking in public is illegal, even having a bottle of wine with a picnic? I don't think so!
Phil Saum, UK


Drinking outside is, especially in summer, a very pleasurable experience

Sally, UK
Drinking outside is, especially in summer, a very pleasurable experience. I think it is a shame that yet again, the majority of the populace is being penalised for the action of a few thugs who cannot control their behaviour.
Sally, UK

The police can exercise some discretion in this. If a pub has outside seating for the purposes of alfresco drinking then as long as people are behaving responsibly in these confines that is okay. Anywhere else on the streets, the fact that people are carrying a glass whilst under the influence means that they are probably a danger to themselves never mind others. In that situation it is perfectly reasonable for police to confiscate these drink containers.
John Moonie, Scotland

Frankly, while I think preventing people from drinking themselves stupid on the streets is a good idea, I'd rather the Government tackled smoking in public places (except where specifically allowed) first. I'd rather walk past someone drinking than get off the train and walk into someone's smoke.
Kate, England

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