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Monday, October 31, 2005

To drink or not to drink

It is not really surprising that many people are finding it difficult to swallow the Government's latest anti-social behaviour measure. The proposal to ban drinking on public transport will certainly have an impact on match days, it will mean that those who are going to get tanked-up will do so before they get on the train. However, there are some legitimate questions to be asked about Labour's priorities here when they open up pubs 24 hours a day and then argue that a marginal measure such as this is needed to combat binge drinking.

As if to underline the impression that the Government is making up policy on the hoof in an effort to appear tough the police say that they have not been consulted on this proposal at all. They did not ask for it as they were under the impression that the public transport companies themselves, can institute such a ban without any changes in the law. They are most probably right.

The leaked paper that includes this proposal has 40 ideas in it, thrown up by a brainstorming session on anti-social behaviour. Other suggestions include a new offence for parents whose children play truant; a suggestion that people who breach asbos should lose their council homes and be sent for rehabilitation; and the appointment of community "sheriffs" to police their own neighbourhoods.

The Government has approached things arse-backwards. Instead of talking to the Police and local Councils to gather evidence, identify problems and take soundings on potential solutions they have started with public perceptions drawn from focus groups and opinion polls and then set out to deliver political fixes rather than good legislation. This is government through the media. It is no wonder that long-established Ministers and party loyalists are lukewarm towards the paper.

I think children and young people and their parents from your "region" may find this crude language offensive.
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