Alcohol disorder zones get green light

13 May, 2008

Local authorities will have the power to create controversial alcohol disorder zones to combat drink-related crime, after the proposal was passed by MPs.

The zones (ADZs), enabling councils to charge drinks sellers for extra policing in trouble hotspots, will be automatically cleared by Parliament today, after being approved by a committee of MPs on Monday afternoon.

But it remained unclear how many local authorities would use their new powers and which retailers would be affected.

Several MPs repeated concerns voiced by both the Local Government Authority (LGA) and the drinks industry that the rules for ADZs were unclear and too bureaucratic.

No formal applications to create a zone have been received, Home office minister Vernon Coaker said on Monday, adding that informal approaches had been made. Original government predictions claimed up to 30 authorities would begin implementing the zones.

Question marks also linger about whether supermarkets and other retailers can be charged.

Coaker said supermarkets would “not necessarily” be exempt from charges, but that decisions would be made case-by-case at a local level. Retailers whose primary purpose is to sell alcohol are likely to be included.

An LGA spokesperson told OLN that it continued to have “serious misgivings” about ADZs, which it believes to be costly and unwieldly.

The Association of Convenience Stores said police and local authorities should use “existing powers” to tackle anti-social behaviour. A spokesperson said: “Alcohol-related violence is reducing. We are already seeing tough sanctions against retailers that are breaking the law.”

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