Geethika Jayatilaka, head of policy, Alcohol Concern
Do you agree with the Violent Crime Reduction Bill's firm stance on alcohol-related crime?
The Bill has good bits and bad bits, but it does not propose mechanisms to tackle the issue of problem drinking. Most binge drinkers might not necessarily be alcohol-dependent or need ongoing specialist treatment, but we would advocate the use of brief interventions. As well as the introduction of drink-banning orders, individual treatment needs must be identified as part of the process.
Do you welcome the concept of alcohol-disorder zones?
It is a step forward in holding licensees accountable for the impact their businesses have on local communities. Little progress has been made in ensuring licensees take responsibility for events that occur outside their premises. But the new zones should link into the planning and licensing systems as a whole. It would be ludicrous for an area to be designated an alcohol-disorder zone even as new bars and pubs are given permission to open there.
What would you change in the Bill?
We don't plan to table any amendments - there is not one change that could put the Bill right. The problem is not about sorting out a few irresponsible pubs and bars, as the Government believes. It is the fact that a large number of people get drunk. The Bill does not recognise that, which is why we think it is wrong from the start.
We will be looking for assurance from the Government that it will enforce existing legislation to change drinking habits throughout the year, not just at Christmas. We would like the Government to send a sign that its policy towards drinking is set to change.
Who supports you in Parliament?
More and more MPs are being questioned by their constituents about binge drinking, which shows that it is a growing concern. People such as John Denham, chair of the Home Affairs Committee, have been quite outspoken on the issue and have helped get our message across.