If you’re planning to buy alcohol in the near future, and prefer not to have your mugshot made available to the police, best to stock up now. Buried deep within the debate around the s.31 of the Policing and Crime Bill are provisions that will allow the Secretary of State to instruct your local corner shop - or pub - to install CCTV and retain pictures of anyone buying alcohol for at least 60 days. Said pics will, of course, be available to the police on request.…!!
We all recognise that Thanet has a significant problem with under-age drinking and I'm wondering whether readers feel that the installation of CCTV cameras might act as a deterrent or indeed aid police and Trading Standards in their prosecutions of either offending traders or teenagers.
The draft has not yet been approved by Ministers, so it is possible that some, all, or none of the measures included in it may be quietly dropped over the next few months. However, measures range from the fussy (laying down the precise percentage of floor area that should be given over to seating), prescriptive (requiring that staff be trained at least every five years in conflict resolution) to the downright intrusive (requiring that areas where alcohol is displayed be covered by CCTV – and all footage be kept for no less than 60 days).
Filming areas where alcohol is sold, as the Home Office suggest, would imply a much harsher approach to the policing of alcohol sales, requiring shop owners first to fund the installation of CCTV, and then make available to the police footage of their own staff breaking the law.
Is this a tacit recognition by Government that the relaxation of the alchol laws has been the disaster that the NHS and the police claim it is and is this introduction of technology, at a cost to the trader, simply evidence of locking the stable door well after the horse has bolted?
CCTV is all well and good but the will and resources to prosecute offenders has to exist as well and the last time I made a Freedom of Information request, last year, Kent Police told me that they had no record of anyone being prosecuted for the secondary sale of alcohol to minors, which appears to be the most common route; i.e. the older teenager buys the Vodka for his younger mates.