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If pubs serve drunks then close them down
20 January 2011

One Man and His Dog by Jim Sharpe

It isn't usually that difficult to spot someone who is a little the worse for drink - let alone an individual a lot worse for it.

Yet I spotted in my morning paper yesterday that a community safety partnership, comprising a couple of councils, the police, public health authorities and the fire brigade somewhere in Wales have just spent £4,000 of public money.... hiring drunks.

Well, they weren't drunks but pretending to be. The idea was that they should slur and stumbled their way around various bars to see if they would get served.

Now, even in this financially straightened time, I don't suppose £4,000 is a lot of money in the great scheme of things - if it achieved any tangible result.

Apparently though, despite several bartenders happily serving them, those guilty were not prosecuted in any way - they were given training to improve their ways.
Presumably at an extra cost to the taxpayer.

Now in the story I read it wasn't exactly made clear what the object of this apparently pointless exercise was.

I presume it was all to do with problems of anti social behaviour and binge drinking.

And they are very real and pressing problems.

Many people no longer care (or dare?) to take to the streets of central Liverpool on a Friday or Saturday night.

Come to that, I can think of one or two towns quite close to home where I would think twice.

But what always puzzles me is that the reaction to overenthusiastic drinking always seems to be more police (largely to point the drunks in the direction of home) and more laws of some sort or another. Or, apparently, more “drunks”.

Yet I am sure it is still an offence to sell alcohol to anyone obviously already sozzled. Just as it is an offence to sell alcohol to anyone under 18.

And, as I said, we now have veritable armies of police patrolling our town and city centres who see drunks spewing (often literally) out of pubs and clubs.

In my no doubt simplistic view, it seems to me that using long existing legislation, the bars concerned could be issued with an official police warning about serving drink to drunken/underage customers.

Get a second such warning and the pub or club would lose its licence.

I bet that would concentrate minds wonderfully. Far fewer drunks (or revellers as they are now so euphemistically called), far fewer children drinking - problem sorted in weeks.

Because it wasn't always like this. In my young days police, usually in the form of a seargent, a couple of constables and a WPC would regularly visit pubs and question anyone who looked remotely under 18 as to who they were, what they were drinking and who bought it.

In fact, I remember feeling rather miffed on one occasion they ignored the then 20-year-old me standing with my pint at the bar.

Or the tale of my poor old dad.

He and mum had been out for an evening out in Liverpool. Dad, perhaps a little worse for drink, ventured forth from the pub they were in to try and hail a taxi home and had the misfortune to bump into a copper. No one suggested he was causing trouble in any way - but he spent the night in the cells for being drunk in a public place and appeared before magistrates in the morning.

Maybe this was a bit over the top - but it certainly reinforced the message that being drunk in the city of Liverpool was not a particularly good idea.

What do you think? Let Jim Sharpe know by calling him on 0151 526 1446 or by sending an email to 


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