FEWER police patrolling Grantham town centre on Saturday nights must give the Divisional Commander, Chief Inspector Housley, some concern.
Each police officer swears an allegiance to the Crown, in which part of the oath states that they will “prevent all offences against people and property”, a principal that dates back to Sir Robert Peel.
As a retired police officer, I can draw upon years of experience standing outside nightclubs until 2am at the weekends, just to ensure that the peace was kept.
This task was undertaken by the majority of officers, and the rest of the area went without any patrols, but at least it was only on two nights of the week.
The relaxing of the licensing laws in 2005 under the last Labour government was seen by many in the police service as a mistake, and it has created more problems than it has solved, failing to deliver the new ‘continental café’ culture that was promised.
This posed a drain on resources, with fewer officers being available to fight crime during the day. Officers who patrol cities such as Nottingham must be on the go most of the night, seven days a week.
At least in Grantham the only venue to have a late licence until 3.30am is the Vibe Club.
Residents who live in the town centre, such as Swinegate, St Wulfram’s and Castlegate, have had to endure years of anti-social behaviour and criminal damage to property, so this will be a difficult call for the police to prioritise their deployment.
This government’s alcohol strategy, presented to Parliament in March 2012, part of which proposes a new late-night levy to help contribute towards the cost of policing and powers to restrict alcohol sales, can be part of a solution to reduce alcohol offences.
This scheme will give local communities more powers to object and local authorities the power to take firm action to close down problem premises.
However, we now have a culture of drinking to excess, particularly among younger people, with alcohol freely available in shops, garages and supermarkets, so it will be a long road to change people’s drinking habits.
COUN RAY WOOTTEN