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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 March, 2004, 15:51 GMT
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Alcohol-fuelled crime and disorder risks spiralling out of control, the Home Secretary has warned Tony Blair.

In a letter leaked to the Sunday Times, David Blunkett outlined his concerns about town centre drinking.

Growing numbers of venues mean police can no longer enforce licensing rules, other documents leaked to the paper said.

Ministers will launch their long-awaited strategy aimed at curbing binge drinking on Monday.

This government has got a sustained policy ... to take strong action against those people who perpetrate anti-social behaviour
Ian McCartney, Labour Party chairman
However, the powers could be introduced after the next election if voluntary measures due to be unveiled on Monday fail, according to the Sunday Times.

The scale of the problem was set out in internal research by Home Office strategy director Paul Wiles on 19 February.

The industry's profit-based approach, with "irresponsible" promotions that ignore "social consequences of alcohol misuse" are partly to blame, the leaked document said.

Labour Party chairman Ian McCartney told Sky News: "This government has got a sustained policy ... to take strong action against those people who perpetrate anti-social behaviour.

"For example, in my own area, we have now put alcohol-free zones in some of our town centres and these are working effectively with the police, the local authorities and the landlords.

Action taken by the government to date has been ineffective
David Davis, shadow home secretary

"Young people can go out and enjoy themselves until the early hours of the morning and not have to be the victim of a drunken yob beating them up, kicking them, headbutting them, or residents getting kept up all night by drunken shouting and bawling."

But shadow home secretary David Davis claimed the documents showed "serial incompetence followed by private panic and public deception".

He said: "Action taken by the government to date has been ineffective: the number of people charged with drunk and disorderly is down and just five pubs have had their licences revoked in recent years.

"Much of this has been because of the excessive pressure on police forces, which have been inadequately resourced by central government."

Mr Davis accused the government of trying to conceal its intention to force new penalties on to licensed premises by presenting a different strategy to the public.

Drinks ban to cut teenage binges
11 Mar 04  |  Wiltshire
New moves to stop binge drinking
05 Mar 04  |  Nottinghamshire
Binges cause 'long-term damage'
03 Mar 04  |  Northern Ireland
Stressed women reach for alcohol
01 Mar 04  |  Health

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