May has been a fierce campaigner on alcohol-related issues, due to what she has descrbed as ‘strong evidence linking alcohol and violent crime and disorder’.
The former home secretary has legislated on the late-night levy, introduced Early Morning Alcohol Restriction Orders and voiced opposition to 24-hour drinking laws.
May also paved the way for minimum unit alcohol pricing, which many licensees felt would help pubs, only to lead a revolt against David Cameron amid claims it would be detrimental to quality of living.
In March this year, in a crackdown on alcohol-related crime, May vowed to push pubs associated with problems out of business.
She announced plans to give councils more powers to enforce late-night levies in rough areas, and more powers to close sites down.
In speech on crime prevention, she said: “In this country, we believe that there are 6 main drivers of crime: alcohol, drugs, opportunity, the effectiveness of the criminal justice system, character and profit,”
“There is strong evidence linking alcohol and violent crime and disorder.
“Building on our previous reforms to the Licensing Act 2003 we will make sure licensing authorities have the right powers and information to prevent alcohol crime and disorder.
“We will improve the late night levy and give police and crime commissioners the right to request that local authorities consult on introducing that levy. We will ensure that licensing authorities have much better intelligence when they are making decisions about the management of the night time economy.”
The former home secretary opposed 24-hour licensing in pubs. In 2010, she said the benefits promised by the 24-hour drinking “have failed to materialise and in its place we have seen an increase in the number of alcohol related incidents and drink-fuelled crime and disorder”.
“We know that the majority of pubs and bars are well run business but the government believes that the system needs to be rebalanced in favour of the local communities they serve with tougher action taken to crack down on the small number of premises who cause problems,” she said.
Also in 2010, May supported charging a fee for late-night licences to pay for the cost of extra policing, and scrapping ‘ineffective, bureaucratic and unpopular alcohol disorder zones’.
She outlined plans to give local people greater powers to object to licensed premises if they felt they were a danger to public health or were turning the area into a "no-go" zone.
In response BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds wrote to May to ask her to reconsider the proposals.
Simmonds said the plans robbed pubs of their legal rights and penalised businesses.
"It is also noticeable that while these proposals contain many measures targeted at business they are totally silent on the issue of holding individuals responsible for their anti-social behaviour,” she wrote.
In 2012 May continued her battle against booze, publishing a consultation on “delivering the Government’s policies to cut alcohol fuelled crime and anti-social behaviour”, which proposed:
- A ban on multi-buy promotions in shops and off-licences
- A review of the mandatory licensing conditions, to ensure that they are sufficiently targeting problems such as irresponsible promotions in pubs and clubs;
- Health as a new alcohol licensing objective for cumulative impacts so that licensing authorities can consider alcohol related health harms when managing the problems relating to the number of premises in their area;
- Cutting red tape for responsible businesses to reduce the burden of regulation on responsible businesses
- A minimum unit price of 45 pence per unit, ensuring for the first time that alcohol can only be sold at a sensible and appropriate price.
Minimum unit pricing
In an interview with the Independent in 2012, May refused to rule out minimum unit pricing.
She said drunken violence had "made many town centres no-go areas for law-abiding citizens".
Appearing to support the prospect of minimum unit pricing, May explained the problems with pre-loading with supermarket booze, which she said led to disorder.
But she then successfully led a revolt against David Cameron against 45p minimum pricing per unit. May, the former health secretary Andrew Lansley, and the education secretary, Michael Gove, all opposed the proposals on grounds that the impact on living standards would be unacceptable.
In 2013 with licensing reform on the cards, the Morning Advertiser asked May to show a sense of perspective.
A speech by the Home Secretary was full of implicit injustices at the expense of the pub sector, the team argued.