Pubs, bars and clubs with a history of violence could be forced to swap drinking glasses for plastic vessels in a crackdown on alcohol-related crime, if new Government proposals are accepted.
John Grogan, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group, tabled the Early Day Motion last Thursday (17 May). It calls for "the replacement of glass with polycarbonate vessels in specific licensed premises in order to combat crime and disorder" and has already received support from seven cross-party MPs.
But the motion proposes targeting only specific sites, rather than general areas, because, Grogan said, a wider ban would be a disproportionate response and would diminish the pub-going experience and customers' enjoyment.
The proposal has been welcomed by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). Adrian Studd, ACPO working group lead on licensing and chief inspector of the Metropolitan Police's club and vice unit, said: "We support the introduction of polycarbonate glasses into all premises with a history of violence or with a ‘high-energy' clientele who could be most at risk in venues serving drinks in glass containers.
"All premises should conduct a risk assessment to establish whether they would benefit from switching to polycarbonate glasses."
The proposal also received support from nightclub operator Luminar, which runs 120 clubs in the UK and is set to introduce polycarbonate glasses throughout its venues over the next year.
However, industry bodies have called for pragmatism and a need for any new law to reflect the diverse output and customer experience offered by Britain's pubs, bars and clubs.
Paul Smith, executive director of the Bar Entertainment & Dance Association, said: "We are pro trying to bring down glass violence and are not saying that glass is good and polycarbonates are bad, per se. We are simply stating that the Early Day Motion should not dictate to operators, but provide them with the right to choose. "
He added: "We applaud what Luminar are doing, as we are happy to see the introduction of polycarbonates in that sort of environment."
But Nick Bish, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, said the problem of alcohol-related violence had already been largely addressed by the licensed trade and was declining, not escalating.
"There is a Government will to eliminate casual violence generally, but a blanket ban as an overall panacea is a considerable over-reaction that will have all sorts of unintended consequences," he said.
By Christopher Walton
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