Tower Hamlets Council proposal to introduce alcohol levy

Late night levy edited brick lane

Brick Lane at night. Pic: Tony Hisgate


Tower Hamlets council is proposing a late night levy on licensed premises in a bid to reduce alcohol-related incidents and the strain they put on the police force.

The levy aims to enable local authorities to charge businesses that supply alcohol between midnight and 6am and intends to pay for the extra enforcement costs that the night-time economy creates for police and licensing authorities.

According to the Institute of Alcohol Studies, the police and justice system spend £1.7 billion each year responding to alcohol related crime, and a 2013/14 report from the Office of National Statistics found that alcohol was a factor in 84 per cent of crime between midnight and 6am.

The government believes that businesses who sell alcohol within that time frame should contribute to the costs of managing the economy, rather than relying on local taxpayers to bear the full cost.

According to Metropolitan Police crime statistics, the peak time of incidents is within the potential levy period, occurring from midnight to 12:30 with 195 incidents reported on average in the borough.

Crime Records Against Time in Tower Hamlets, 1 April 2014 - 31 March 2015

Data from the Metropolitan.

There are approximately 200 alcohol related ambulance call-outs per month in Tower Hamlets, and an average of 17 per cent of these happen between midnight and 6am.

If confirmed, the levy would see businesses pay from between £5.75 and £85.38 per week, dependent on their size.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said: “Businesses in the borough that sell alcohol between midnight and 6am must ensure that they help to reduce alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour.

“One of the ways they can do this is through the introduction of a Late Night Levy so we are keen to hear from businesses and residents about our proposals.”

Councillor Shiria Khatun, cabinet member for community safety, added: “It is vital that businesses in the borough take responsibility for their patrons, especially when alcohol is involved. We want to find out whether people think that introducing a Late Night Levy is the best way to do this.”

The council wants 70 per cent  of the revenue earned to go to the Mayor’s Office of Policing and Crime (MOPAC), who fund the Metropolitan Police Force.

The remaining 30 per cent would be used to help reduce alcohol-related crime, and the council is considering various projects, including: street pastors, street cleaning, personal safety initiatives and additional police.

This strategy has also been considered in other London boroughs and throughout the UK.

A late night levy came into place in the borough of Camden on April 28, and the City of London imposed a levy in late 2014.

Across the UK, Newcastle was the first city to implement this scheme in 2012. This has had mixed responses, however statistics shed light on the efficacy of levy.

In the year 2012-13, Newcastle had an average anti-social behaviour crime rate of 982 per month. This rose to 1,048 per month in 2013-14 and most recent data shows it was still higher than before the levy in 2014-15, at 994 per month.

Levies like this have been previously criticised from the owners of establishments selling alcohol late into the night and early morning, but have often been supported by residents who believe it could help curb alcohol-related crime.

There is a consultation on the proposals, which closes on 15 May and residents are encouraged to fill out this quick survey.

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