'Let's put an end to 24-hour drinking'
THE 24-hour drinking culture should go, says the new Devon and Cornwall Police Commissioner.
Tony Hogg, who visited Plymouth clubland earlier this month, warned yesterday that he was not in favour of the open-all-hours policy.
"One of the things I was surprised about in the streets of Plymouth was to see people queuing for clubs and bars at 4.30am," he said.
"I want people to enjoy themselves, but I am not sure we should see people starting to drink at 4.30 or 5am.
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"I would like to put a stop to that. I am against 24-hour drinking."
Mr Hogg spent hours on the front line with Plymouth police officers, walking Union Street, the Barbican leisure park, North Hill and Mutley as well as visiting the custody suite at Charles Cross police station, the CCTV control room and Crownhill Police station.
He came away convinced that tackling alcohol misuse will be one of his top priorities and told The Herald at the time that it puts a strain on police, hospitals and social services.
In his first set-piece press conference yesterday, Mr Hogg said: "I want to take on the issue of alcohol. I have seen the sheer resources needed to tackle alcohol in Plymouth.
"There were twentysomethings, fighting drunk and paralytic.
"It took eight police officers to keep them safe. One officer got bitten. It's hard work for them."
He said he backed the Government's intention to bring in early morning restriction orders and the late-night levy on licensed premises.
"Half of domestic violence is alcohol-related," Mr Hogg said.
but he did not agree with zero tolerance as a "blanket mechanism", except in cases of sexual violence.
"Otherwise it's too blunt, especially with young people.
"Ten per cent of young people create 30 per cent of crime, but so often they are the victims."
Asked about drugs, which are fuelling the rise in acquisitive crime, Mr Hogg said: "We have got to look at reducing the inflow of drugs into the country, and then look at prevention.
"And we need to break the cycle of reoffending."
One of the first tasks facing Mr Hogg is to appoint a new police chief.
Devon and Cornwall has been without a permanent Chief Constable since Stephen Otter announced he was leaving in January.
Mr Hogg said yesterday that he would aim to make the appointment by the end of January.
The job has been advertised, but Mr Hogg said that it could go to acting Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer.
The new Chief Constable will be in charge of police operations, answering to Mr Hogg as the force's political boss.
The Home Office banned police authorities from appointing new chief constables earlier this year because of the imminent elections.
Mr Hogg has taken on the task of fighting for vital Government funding for the force, while at the same time shaving £50million from its budget by 2015.