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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 April, 2005, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
Instant fines for serving drunks
Bar taps
Ministers say they are tackling the symptoms of increased drinking
Bar staff serving customers who are drunk could be hit with an 80 fixed penalty notice, the government has announced.

Ministers have revealed that the on-the-spot fines, aimed at cracking down on binge drinking, will be introduced on Monday.

But some pub managers are sceptical over the ability to enforce the fines, saying stricter guidelines are needed.

A fine for children caught buying alcohol will also be introduced.

The Conservatives and Lib Dems argue the measures are not enough to tackle the problem.

They have also called for a delay on the government's 24-hour drinking plans.

'Clear message'

Police can already impose on-the spot fines on those who are drunk and disorderly.

If the law is broken, both parties must pay a price
Tessa Jowell

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said the fine expansions "send out a clear message".

"If the law is broken, both parties must pay a price," she said.

"Along with tough measures in the Licensing Act, these new penalty notices will give police further tools to tackle alcohol-fuelled crime and disorder head-on."

The result would be more freedom for responsible adults and tougher treatment "for the yobbish minority", she added.

Strict guidelines

Industry reaction has revealed sceptism at the ability of the law to be enforced.

Mark Hastings, from the British Beer and Pub Association, said police had not put enforcement "at the top of their priority list".

He told the BBC News website: "The key here is enforcement and ensuring that the law is enforced with rigour.

"We'd also like to see the same steps taken against drunks themselves."

Kevin Beswick, manager at The Bridge pub in Manchester, said one problem was a lack of strict guidelines.

"One person could drink ten drinks and appear sober while another could be falling over. It's very hard to gage," he said.

How do you tell when someone's drunk? We're not medically trained
Andy McIntyre

He said the key was staff training: "I've made my staff aware that they're liable personally."

Andy McIntyre, manager of the Market Place in London, said enforcing the law was "difficult".

He said: "How do you tell when someone's drunk? We're not medically trained."

"You're paying your staff to serve drinks and make as much money as possible, you're not going to fine them for serving alcohol if that's what they're paid for."

The government hopes 24-hour licensing could come into operation from November.

'More police'

Opposition parties say it is the wider policies on drinking that need to be reconsidered and a few extra on-the-spot fines will make little difference.

A Conservative spokesman said: "We need far more police on our streets and in out towns and in our cities."

A spokesman for the Lib Dems said: "Make the punishment something that matters.

"Just having to pay 50 is something the very rich can do very easily and something quite a lot of people may forget after a fortnight."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
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SEE ALSO:
Drinking plans 'need examining'
21 Jan 05 |  Politics
NHS fear over 24-hour drink plans
03 Jan 05 |  Politics
Tories opposing 24-hour drinking
12 Jan 05 |  Politics


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