Call for curb on late-night sales

A former police licensing chief has called for off-licences and convenience stores to be forced to sell alcohol from behind a barrier late at night in certain areas.

Simon O’Brien, former lead of alcohol licensing at the Association of Chief Police Officers, said the move was one way of reducing antisocial behaviour in urban areas.

O’Brien, currently deputy inspector of policing for Ireland, made the call at a conference on alcohol and public health hosted by Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum in London.

“Complex issues require complex solutions,” said O’Brien. “Where you have an independent trader operating in an area with a lot of kids it is difficult to manage.

“Isn’t it time to say certain premises should have to sell alcohol from behind a barrier?”?O’Brien said Tesco “deserves more support” for its scheme offering licensing training to independent businesses.

He also proposed the formation of an independent Alcohol Commission to provide impartial data on the impact of alcohol to end the practice where “the same report is used to justify one side’s point of view and then again to justify something else”.

He said an independent body would “provide an impartial voice and a provider of good advice”, and added: “It doesn’t have to have a regulatory function like the Gambling Commission.” Mark Baird, corporate social responsibility manager at Diageo GB, told the conference that a ban on below-cost selling was “worthy of extra exploration” as a measure to tackle harmful drinking.

He said taking the definition of below-cost as duty and VAT was “a good starting point”.

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