A ban on alcohol promotions such as "all you can drink for £10" deals plus a compulsory requirement to check under 18s for ID are among the final conditions of a proposed mandatory code for alcohol retailers, Home Secretary Alan Johnson has announced.
Following a nationwide consultation, that generated more than 7,000 responses, the government has set out five mandatory conditions to tackle alcohol-related crime and disorder, which costs the UK an estimated £8-13 billion each year.
The conditions will be applied to all alcohol retailers to ensure consistent good practice and crack down on problem premises where irresponsible drinking could put individuals at risk and lead to crime and anti social behaviour.
Other proposals include:
- Banning other irresponsible promotions such as women drink free deals and speed drinking competitions.
- Banning "dentist's chairs" where drink is poured directly into the mouths of customers making it impossible for them to control the amount they are drinking.
- Ensuring free tap water is available for customers to allow people to space out their drinks and reduce the risks of becoming dangerously drunk.
- Ensuring all those who sell alcohol have an age verification policy in place requiring them to check the ID of anyone who looks under 18 to prevent underage drinking.
- Ensuring that all on trade premises make available small measures of beers, wine and spirits to customers so customers have the choice between a single or double measure of spirits and a large or small glass of wine.
Any premises that breach the mandatory code or any secondary conditions that have been imposed will face a range of possible sanctions including losing their licence, having additional tough conditions imposed on their licence or on summary conviction a maximum £20,000 fine and/or six months imprisonment.
Home Secretary Alan Johnson said:
"Alcohol-related crime costs the UK billions of pounds every year and while the vast majority of retailers are responsible, a minority continue to run irresponsible promotions which fuel the excessive drinking that leads to alcohol-related crime and disorder.
"These practices have a real impact on society not to mention the lives of those who just want to enjoy a good night out. The government and the industry have a duty to act, this mandatory code will allow us to take action against an issue which affects us all.
"We have consulted extensively with the public and the alcohol industry to ensure that these conditions will only target the most irresponsible practices that most people agree should not happen anywhere."
The code will be introduced in two stages. The first three conditions covering irresponsible promotions, the "dentist's chair" and ensuring free tap water is available will come into effect on 6 April 2010.
The remaining conditions on age verification policy and ensuring smaller measures are available will come into effect on 1 October 2010 to give retailers time to prepare.