Hit drunken boors hard, not sensible drinkers

COMMENT: All agencies must to held to account for Anne Savidge’s tragic death

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Should a night shift worker be able to pop into their corner shop on the way home at 5am and buy a bottle of wine or a pack of beer?

Should a group of people who have been clubbing until the small hours and want to continue partying at home, be able to replenish their stocks?

We would argue that, of course, they should.

In the same way that anyone can call in at their neighbourhood 24-hour convenience store at that time and buy eggs, bacon and beans for their breakfast.

But we understand the concerns of Portsmouth councillors who have had to approve a Stamshaw shop’s application to serve alcohol from 5am until 1am because the law says it should be allowed.

We understand the fears of some residents close to Twyford News, in Twyford Avenue, who believe the shop will become a magnet for early-morning drinkers who will consume their booze in surrounding streets.

The licensing laws in this country are perplexing.

The Labour government’s decision to allow 24-hour licensing of alcohol sales meant, in reality, that publicans could choose their opening hours. Nowadays, if you fancy a quick pint at say 11am or 3pm in an area with which you are not familiar, you might find the nearest pub closed.

It’s the same in some supermarkets, especially on Sundays, with alcohol off limits early in the mornings and late at night.

The principle underpinning the law change was sound enough: that the staggering of pub and club closure during the night would curb the insane binge drinking that used to accompany last orders.

But those who think anti-social behaviour is the product of alcohol abuse confuse cause with consequence.

The boorish conduct visible in town centres at night has roots much deeper than the structure of the licensing laws. What is needed is not restricted access to alcohol but a tougher approach to criminality.

Adults should be free to behave as they choose – and held to account for the consequences.