Just the one

I got into a discussion on cam.misc (the local newsgroup) on drunks in Cambridge (as it’s on cam.misc, the thread dissolves into local politicians saying it isn’t their fault and a discussion of Cambridge traffic). Apparently, the Mayor gave an interview to the local rag about it, which was picked up by the Torygraph. I also found an interesting article in the Observer, which accuses the Government of being double-minded about drink.

As I said on the group, in the case of the big chain pubs who blight the centre of town by disgorging drunks onto the narrow streets at 11 pm, I’d favour the police being a bit more rigourous in enforcing the law, which says that pubs may not serve someone who’s visibly drunk. Having the chains pay for extra policing also seems like a good plan. While, as the original poster said, it isn’t downtown Detroit, and as someone else said, this is part of a national trend, it’s also an observable fact that the city centre is a less friendly place than it used to be before the arrival of the big chains.

It’ll be interesting to see what effect the forthcoming liberalisation of opening hours has on all this: I’m not particularly optimistic, but I take the point that staggered closing times at least mean all the drunks aren’t on the street at once.

Brits have never been good at handling their drink, of course, but there seems to be frustratingly little official will to actually do anything about this at the moment (doing something about it does not equate to passing new laws, since we have plenty of those already, but rather, seeing them enforced).

8 thoughts on “Just the one”

  1. I suspect that looking at Scotland for the effect of longer opening hours risks being misleading: a culture that’s grown up around a particular legislative configuration is not guaranteed to produce the same result as one that has a the same rules introduced suddenly.

    Staggered closing times might well reduce the level of concurrent incidents but I worry that it could also cause the police to have to be able to routinely respond in bulk for a higher proportion of the day than is currently the case.

    Refusing to serve the visibly drunk suffers from the fact that your mates can buy you drinks no matter how far gone you are (indeed, probably with more success on purely practical grounds). You can hardly ban people from buying a round. I’m unconvinced that you can use legal tools to prevent drunkenness short of extremely intrusive measures…

    Perhaps adverts illustrating the, ah, disempowering effect of alcohol might work better l-)

    1. Refusing to serve the visibly drunk suffers from the fact that your mates can buy you drinks no matter how far gone you are (indeed, probably with more success on purely practical grounds). You can hardly ban people from buying a round.

      The law currently prohibits serving someone you believe may be buying a drink for someone who is drunk. It is not enforced – and, in my opinion, unenforceable. It is just another stick with which to hit licensees who have pissed off the police.

      At the moment, the people who are committing offenses when selling alcohol to someone who is drunk, underage, etc. are all three of the purchaser, the server, and the licensee. (The server and the licensee may be the same person, of course.) There is no corporate responsibility in the case of a chain that owns a large city-centre bar and employs a manager who is the licensee; in fact it is impossible for a corporation to hold a justices’ licence.

      This is due to change. Under the Licensing Act 2003, licences are split into two parts: Premises Licences, which license particular buildings for various purposes (selling alcohol, showing films, serving hot food after 11pm, and so on), and Personal Licences which license particular people to be the Designated Premises Supervisor for those premises that sell alcohol. This structure lends itself naturally to the big companies which own the large city-centre circuit pubs being the premises licensees. When licensing offences are committed in the future, the large companies may find themselves liable.

      The pubs that I run don’t have problems with drunk customers terrorising the neighbourhood. We know our customers, and they know each other; if they caused trouble locally they would lose social standing. I think this is the main difference between “back street boozers” like mine, and the big chain pubs that 17-year-olds go to to get pissed.

      1. I was careful to blame the chains, because I knew you’d be reading this 🙂 Seriously though, I think the huge chain pubs have less motivation to keep a lid on things because they don’t have to deal with the consequences in the same way. If you’re a landlord who lives in the flat above the shop and is well known to the community, you’ve got some motivation for the area to be a safe place to be.

        It is not enforced – and, in my opinion, unenforceable. It is just another stick with which to hit licensees who have pissed off the police.

        Well, quite. I’d like them to hit the Regal and the Rat and Parrot with it. Repeatedly. Someone did point out that it keeps the 17 year olds out of the other pubs, which is one good thing I suppose.

  2. Subject: It wasn't my fault!

    I didn’t want it to turn into another tedious transport discussion, I promise — my first couple of posts were on-topic!

    Nice pic, BTW. Anyone up for a trip to see Serenity when it opens in October?

      1. Subject: Re: It wasn't my fault!
        I reckon we should do something similar to what we did for LOTR, where someone with a big telly (hint) screens the series beforehand. The only problem with that idea is that screening the series would take longer, so you’d either have to space them out more or show selected ones.

        1. Subject: Re: It wasn't my fault!
          Well, I’m still intending to buy an absurdly huge TV so I can add “movie nights” to the usual barbecues, board games, card games, etc. The problem is that I’m a little commitment shy. 😉

          (The box I’m looking at buying gets good reviews, but the price tag is rather high…)

          However, if I do get around to buying the TV, I also have the DVDs of Firefly, and will be happy to screen them in the run up to the film if it’s practical. I’m not sure the series is longer than LotR, BTW. 😉

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