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Cumbria PCC says pubs serving underage drinkers should face 72-hour closure "shock tactic"

By Adam Pescod , 10-Jan-2013
Last updated on 10-Jan-2013 at 15:43 GMT2013-01-10T15:43:24Z

Crackdown: Rhodes believes underage drinking is a big issue across the UK

Crackdown: Rhodes believes underage drinking is a big issue across the UK

Pubs and clubs caught serving alcohol to underage drinkers should automatically be closed for 72 hours upon first offence as a “shock tactic”.

That is the view of the new Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Cumbria, Richard Rhodes, who has made alcohol misuse one of his top priorities.

Speaking to the Publican’s Morning Advertiser, Rhodes admitted that while “most licensees are responsible”, underage drinking remains “something that needs to
be tackled”.

Hosts and barstaff currently face on-the-spot penalties or prosecution the first time they are caught serving an underage customer. Failing two test purchases in a three-month period can lead to a suspension of alcohol sales for up to three months and/or a fine of up to £20,000.

“It is something I feel quite strongly about because I was a headmaster for 22 years,” said Rhodes. “The power (72-hour closure) doesn’t currently exist but I do think that a ‘shock tactic’ could be an answer to the problem. There is quite a lot of disrespect for the law in my opinion.”

Rhodes believes that supermarkets and parents should also take a large part of the blame for the problem of underage drinking.

“‘Pre-loading’ on multi-buy supermarket alcohol is an issue which I don’t think is policed as well as it should be,” he said. “The connivance of some parents doesn’t help either — they see it is as quite reasonable to buy a drink to give to their children which is then drunk on the street. It is time we had a serious national debate about whether this is the type of society we would like to have.”

Meanwhile, Rhodes added that there was not much appetite for late-night levies and early morning restriction orders (EMROs) among local authorities in Cumbria.

He said: “I have had conversations with the police about the late-night levy and EMROs and they have reservations about the practicalities of the measures.

“In a number of areas of Cumbria there is a very close working arrangement be-tween publicans and the police, and the police feel that if they were required to be more forceful it would threaten that partnership.”

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