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Theresa May takes big steps forward in those famous high heels

By Tim Montgomerie

MAY-THERESA-shoes Theresa May has today given a speech setting out some very specific measures to tackle Britain's booze culture and, more ambiguously, "to move beyond ASBOs" with with simpler sanctions that are "rehabilitating and restorative rather than criminalising and coercive". The full text is here but I highlight two key passages below:

The cost to taxpayers of alcohol abuse: "Nearly 7 million attendances at hospital accident and emergency services are estimated to be alcohol-related, at a cost of around 650 million pounds per year to the taxpayer. More than a million ambulance call outs each year are estimated to be alcohol-related, at a cost of around 370 million pounds per year. Overall, the total costs of alcohol-related crime and disorder to the taxpayer are estimated to be between 8 and 13 billion pounds per year."

Co-ordinated action against 'boozy Britain':
  • "We will overhaul the Licensing Act to ensure that local people have greater control over pubs, clubs and other licensed premises.
  • We will allow their local authority to charge more for late-night licences, which they will then be able to plough back into late-night policing in their area.
  • We will double the fine for under-age sales and allow authorities to permanently shut down any shop or bar that persistently sells alcohol to children.
  • We will ban the below cost sale of alcohol, to ensure that retailers no longer sell alcohol at irresponsible prices.
  • And responsibility for licensing will return from the Culture Department to the Home Office so we can join up licensing policy with policing the consequences of drink-fuelled disorder."
[More here].

I was a fan of Theresa May's performance during the General Election (see bottom of this post) and she has made a very good start as Home Secretary:

  • She made quick work of abolishing ID cards and has begun a "rapid review" of Labour's other erosions of civil liberties.
  • She handled the tragic Cumbrian shootings well - refusing to play to the gallery on gun laws.
  • 4751816892_f15ce9271b After scrapping Labour's police targets, on Monday she unveiled what she rightly described as the most radical police reforms "in at least fifty years". Police Minister Nick Herbert (pictured) will be the man who will deliver directly-elected police chiefs but the Home Secretary has thrown her weight behind the reform in the teeth of opposition from the policing establishment. The importance of direct democracy in policing has been set out by Nick Herbert's former Chief of Staff, Policy Exchange's Blair Gibbs.
  • Damian Green and Mrs May have got on with introducing a temporary immigration cap. I wish them both luck in resisting pressure from Vince Cable (and David Willetts) to dilute the final cap. This election pledge must be honoured and we must not use cheap labour from abroad as an alternative to re-skilling Britain's own long-term unemployed.
  • As Paul Goodman has already written, Mrs May has also taken a firm line on hate preachers. Long may that tough line continue.

Screen shot 2010-07-28 at 15.22.35 Her record is not perfect. I share the disappointment of Bill Cash, John Redwood and Lee Rotherham that the European Investigations Order is being accepted without more scrutiny and safeguards. I also wish Ken Clarke wasn't rolling back Michael Howard's prisons policy but, short of resigning, I don't suppose she can stop the cigar-smoking Justice Secretary. Chris Grayling is one of the few who would have tried.

The Home Office is regarded as a ministerial graveyard and things may yet turn south for the Coalition's most senior woman but three cheers for her first three months in the job.


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