Former police chief calls for off licences to be closed at 9pm

29 September 2020, 07:58 | Updated: 29 September 2020, 08:43

By Fiona Jones

Former Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy backs the Manchester Mayor's calls for off licences to close at 9pm to discourage people from pouring out of the pubs at 10pm and buying more alcohol.

The Prime Minister's new coronavirus regulations came into force last Thursday, and since many revellers have been spotted taking to the streets after the 10pm curfew to continue their jubilations.

On the evening of the announcement a bouncer told LBC that the curfew was an "absolute nightmare" to enforce and "worse than New Year's Eve".

Read more: Backlash grows over 10pm curfew amid scenes of pub-goers partying in streets

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Former police chief Sir Peter Fahy branded it a "huge operational problem" as a lot of the pub-goers would already have mixed socially "so I'm not sure that it's actually solving it."

Sir Peter supported Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham's call for sales restrictions for off-licences and said instead, "I would allow pubs and clubs open until later - possibly have a later opening for restaurants."

LBC's Nick Ferrari countered that people could "jump in the car and go to a supermarket" nearby, to which the former police chief responded that all coronavirus measures should be nationwide.

"We need to really allow at a local level the police, public health, the local authorities to work together to really concentrate on the premises that are causing a problem," Sir Peter said, "most people won't go to premises where they feel unsafe. You're talking about a relatively small group of people and a small group of premises."

Read more: U-turn as Parliament's bars will no longer sell alcohol after 10pm

Sir Peter told LBC that were he still Chief Constable he would be telling his officers to "do what they've always done" and use persuasion to get people to move along. He reflected that the "last thing officers want to do is arrest people."

"It's really difficult to deal with drunken people, they don't take reason, they mess about, they try and wind up the officers," he said, pointing out the "huge challenge" the coronavirus response is causing for officers and the "confused" messages they're trying to enforce.

It follows strong criticism of the current 10pm curfew on pubs, bars and restaurants in England, with Mr Burnham calling for an urgent review into the policy.

"I received reports that the supermarkets were absolutely packed out to the rafters with people gathering," he said yesterday.

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"I think there needs to be an urgent review of the emerging evidence from police forces across the country.

"My gut feeling is that this curfew is doing more harm than good. It creates an incentive for people to gather in the street or more probably to gather in the home.

"That is the opposite of what local restrictions here are trying to do."