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Last bank holiday weekend, a number of pubs would have had to deal with inexcusable, yobbish behaviour. Pubwatch and the National Association of...

Last bank holiday weekend, a number of pubs would have had to deal with inexcusable, yobbish behaviour. Pubwatch and the National Association of Licensed House Managers have been campaigning on the issue for decades. As far back as the 1970s, a campaign was launched to exclude those found guilty of a violent assault on licensed premises from the pub where the offence was committed and other pubs in the locality. As a result, the Licensed Premises (Exclusion of Certain Persons Act) 1980 gave the courts the power to exclude any person found guilty of a violent assault from a licensed premises. Any guilty person re-entering the premises would be in contempt of court and liable to further fines or imprisonment for up to two years. The problem is that the courts and police have never made effective use of the powers available to them. In 1996, only 23 exclusion orders were imposed by the courts. Such is the lack of priority that has been given to the issue that no more up-to-date figures appear to exist. Back in 2000, in the Liquor Licensing Law Reform White Paper, the Government promised to place a duty on the courts "to consider exclusion in any case where an individual is convicted for an offence involving disorder or violence on licensed premises of any kind". Moreover, it proposed exclusion powers be extended to off-licensed premises and registered clubs for the first time. By the time the Licensing Act was going through Parliament earlier this year, Government Minister Baroness Blackstone had rather changed the tune. She announced in the House of Lords that "there is a question mark regarding whether a licensing bill that deals mainly with regulatory and administrative arrangements is an appropriate statute in which to address sentencing matters." The All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group is determined to get the issue of exclusion orders considered afresh by ministers. The problem is, who is the right Minister? The Home Office told us it was nothing to do with them but was definitely the responsibility of the new Department of Constitutional Affairs. However, Chris Leslie, who is the junior minister at this department, referred us back to the Department of Culture, Media & Sport. What was all that I used to hear about joined-up government? There is no better case for naming and shaming than thugs who terrorise people who are simply trying to enjoy a good night out. If the Government put as much enthusiasm into excluding violent offenders from pubs as it does in excluding them from football grounds, that would be a good statement of intent in itself.

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