It's always a problem we have, that the general public seem to have been successfully convinced that we have a drink problem in the UK. Of course, it does strike me that if we have a general problem with alcohol then the general population is naughty. The reply might come back that it's just a few people, of course, you, me and our best friends aren't the problem, are we?
I wasn't convinced that Police and Crime Commissioners should be elected. My view is that we have various politicians that decide how much, or little, should be spent on the police and make laws that the police should enforce. The best people to decide how to actually enforce laws are the people who have been doing so for many years and know what works, and what doesn't. We have a legal system complete with appeals all the way to the actual law makers themselves that generally act as safeguards. I know it goes wrong, but I am unconvinced that we need more elected nit-wits to mess stuff up.
To my shame I didn't vote at the recent Police and Crime Commissioner elections. I have a strong conviction that we all have a duty to vote. I didn't, I'm sorry, I'll try better next time. Perhaps it's because I don't believe the post should be elected, or perhaps I was just too busy. Either-way, there is no satisfactory excuse and I now have a reason to try better next time.
I notice this week that the Cumbrian Police and Crime Commissioner, Richard Rhodes, has decided, for reasons of proving he's fit for the job, has jumped on the popular "let's knock drinking" bandwagon by over-stating that there is an underage drink problem. He goes on to suggest that there should be a 72 hour automatic closure for any premises that is caught serving underage people, even on the first offence.
I don't doubt that he is right that some licensees don't pay enough attention to this isolated problem. I also don't doubt that some bar staff are much less diligent than they should be. I've witnessed it myself. However, suppose you were a licensee who was generally diligent, but one of your staff served an underage friend a drink. The suggestion seems to be that the publican would have an immediate and automatic 72 hour closure.
In this sort of instance the publican would be somewhat bitter towards the police about the matter. As an ex-publican I have always found the police value the relationship with good publicans. Indeed, so much so that my own opinions of police in general has been significantly improved as a result of my time running a pub. I feel that even the threat of such an action would undermine the great relationship that can exist between the police and the people who generally have to deal with the trouble on the ground.
It is telling that Mr Rhodes also states "In a number of areas in Cumbria there is a very close working arrangement between publicans and the Police, and the police feel that if they were required to be more forceful it would threaten that partnership"
Damn right Mr Rhodes.