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Wednesday, 13 June, 2001, 11:59 GMT 12:59 UK
Charity demands happy hour ban
Binge drinking has been blamed for much violence
A crime prevention charity is calling for a ban on happy hours in bars, pubs and clubs.

The National Association for the Care and Rehabilitation of Offenders (Nacro) says bar promotions encourage rapid drinking can lead to binge drinking and violence.

The custom is a major "cause for concern", according to a Nacro study.

There is no doubt that there is a binge drinking culture in the UK, particularly among young men

Dr Marcus Roberts
It recommends that happy hours should be restricted or banned as part of a wide-ranging plan to reduce alcohol-related disorder.

"There is no doubt that there is a binge drinking culture in the UK, particularly among young men," said report author and Nacro policy manager Dr Marcus Roberts.

"Patterns of sporadic drinking lead to acute intoxication and are more strongly associated with violence than frequent but moderate drinking.

Licensees responsibility

"If we are serious about reducing crime, we need to give thought to how we can create a more responsible drinking culture."

The report, entitled Drink and Disorder: Alcohol, Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour, also suggests making licensees responsible for injury or damage caused by customers who have been served too much alcohol as a result of their negligence.

Bars and pubs should be designed to avoid "flashpoints" for arguments - such as when someone has to push past people in a narrow space to reach the toilets.

It is all rather depressing that people are proposing to ban happiness

Mark Hastings
Potential weapons should be removed by banning drinking out of bottles and making hardened glass compulsory in licensed premises, it says.

There must also be more alcohol treatment services for young people, because this age group is drinking more than ever yet there is a shortage of programmes to help them, the report adds.

The government has already indicated it will reform "last orders" to allow 24-hour opening in a bid to stagger closing times and reduce trouble on the streets.

Charging dilemma

Mark Hastings, of the Brewers & Licensed Retailers Association (BLRA), told BBC News Online the industry was "stuck between a rock and a hard place".

He said: "It is all rather depressing that people are proposing to ban happiness.

"It is quite curious that a lot of the time the industry is wrongly accused of charging far too much and we are accused of charging too little.

"The happy hour is a demonstration of healthy competition between bars trying to attract customers."

Alcohol abuse

Mr Hastings said "targeted measures" against violent customers were preferable to draconian blanket action, insisting: "Binge drinking affects only a tiny minority.

"People who abuse alcohol will abuse it whether or not happy hours are there."

Tony Jerome of the Campaign for Real Ale said that while the group believed in value for money it did not support the promotion of excessive drinking such as offers encouraging the purchase of a number of drinks at once.

Mr Jerome said reformed licensing laws were vital to tackle binge drinking.

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03 May 01 | UK Politics
Minister calls time on drinking laws
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