Binge Drinking Violence Creating ‘No Go Areas’

(Independent) – BOOZE-FUELLED VIOLENCE is creating “no-go areas” across England and Wales, a Government-funded poll revealed today.

One person in every four said they avoided parts of their local area because of crime and disorder linked to alcohol abuse.

The results of the study were released as the Government confirmed measures aimed at tackling alcohol misuse will come into force before the General Election.

Speed drinking games, volume drinks promotions and pouring alcohol directly into drinkers’ mouths will be banned from April, Home Secretary Alan Johnson announced.

The Tories also laid out their plans to tackle problem drinking with a pledge to “take back” town centres and roll back so-called “24-hour drinking”.

Alcopops and super-strength beer and cider would face higher levies, they said, and bars and clubs wanting late night licences would be hit with a tax to pay for policing.

The poll revealed widespread support for a ban on drinks promotions in supermarkets and off licences in problem areas.

Half of those questioned said bulk buy and other offers should be prohibited where disorder is rife.

Ministers have dropped plans to allow councils to ban happy hours in pubs and bulk offers from alcohol retailers in problem zones.

Mr Grayling said: “It’s time we took back control of our town and city centres on a Friday and Saturday night, and turned them back into places where people can have a good night out without the fear of being caught up in a culture of binge drinking and anti-social behaviour,” he said.

“We need to scrap the Government’s late-night licensing regime, give local people back powers over the number of licensed premises in their areas, and introduce charges for late-night licences to pay for better policing.

“We can’t go on with the binge-drinking culture that has built up under Labour.”

Mr Johnson said the ban on games, and measures to force pubs to provide tap water for free would come into force in April and help deal with “irresponsible” retailers.

From October, bars will be forced to offer smaller drink sizes, he said.

The poll, carried out by Ipsos-Mori, revealed widespread ignorance of rules that allow bars to offer spirits in either 25ml or 35ml measures.

More than half of those questioned (52%) said they thought a single measure was the same everywhere.

Mr Johnson said: “Alcohol-related crime costs the UK billions of pounds every year and while the vast majority of retailers are responsible, a minority continue to run irresponsible promotions which fuel the excessive drinking that leads to alcohol-related crime and disorder.

“These practices have a real impact on society, not to mention the lives of those who just want to enjoy a good night out.

“The Government and the industry have a duty to act, this mandatory code will allow us to take action against an issue which affects us all.”

The British Beer and Pub Association said the measures were unbalanced because they did not target drinks sold through supermarkets.

Concerns have been raised about drinkers “pre-loading” with booze before going on a night out.

BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said 70% of alcohol is sold through supermarkets.

She said: “We have consistently supported legislation to crack down on irresponsible promotions in pubs and supermarkets.

“However, with nearly 70% of all alcohol now sold through supermarkets, the pub-centric measures announced today are lopsided and unbalanced.

“Pubs are struggling and the country is in recession. This is not the time for the Home Office to be burying business in yet more unnecessary red tape.”

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said: “Booze Britain is ruining lives and costing the country billions, but Labour has not only failed to tackle alcohol misuse, it has allowed an epidemic of drink-fuelled crime and illness to take hold.

“Now the Government is ignoring its own expensive advice and experts, who say the best way to reduce alcohol misuse is to stop booze being sold at pocket money prices.”

Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians and chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said the Government’s move was “a welcome direction of travel” but argued that minimum unit prices for alcohol would be more effective in cutting problem drinking.

The new rules amounted to an admission that voluntary codes for the drinks industry had failed, he told the BBC.

Setting a minimum price for booze would be more effective, he said.

“Minimum unit pricing is very attractive because it doesn’t affect the price of a pint in a pub or a glass of wine in a restaurant but it does target the heavy drinkers and the under-age drinkers who target the cheapest drinks.”

* Ipsos Mori questioned 1,710 people in England and Wales in July last year.

Islam4UK To Be Banned

(Guardian) – THE ISLAMIST GROUP Islam4UK, which planned a march through Wootton Bassett, and its “parent” organisation, al-Muhajiroun, will be banned under new legislation outlawing the “glorification” of terrorism, Alan Johnson announced today.

The order, which will come into effect on Thursday, will make it a criminal offence to be a member of either of the groups, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

“I have today laid an order which will proscribe al-Muhajiroun, Islam4UK, and a number of the other names the organisation goes by,” Johnson said. Other names are Call to Submission, Islamic Path and London School of Sharia. The group is already proscribed under two other names – al-Ghurabaa and the Saved Sect or the Saviour Sect.

Johnson said that proscription was “a tough but necessary power to tackle terrorism”, adding that it was “not a course we take lightly”.

The decision, based on months of monitoring the output of websites and comments by senior figures, will have to be endorsed by parliament. Al-Muhajiroun was founded by Omar Bakri Muhammad and Anjem Choudary, and has been operating in Britain since the mid-1980s.

The group became notorious for praising the September 11 attacks in 2001. Bakri was banned from Britain by the former home secretary Charles Clarke in August 2005, on the grounds that his presence in the country was “not conducive to the public good”.

At the same time, the Home Office announced its intention to ban the group but it disappeared from view before relaunching itself in June last year.

The Saviour sect and al-Ghurabaa were proscribed under the 2000 Terrorism Act.

Islam4UK has called off its planned march through Wootton Bassett, the Wiltshire market town that has come to symbolise the fatalities sustained by British forces in Afghanistan.

It said it had “successfully highlighted the plight of Muslims in Afghanistan globally”.

The group said that if their organisation and al-Muhajiroun were banned, “another platform with a new name will arise to continue to fulfil these divine objections until the sharia has been implemented”.

Counterterrorism legislation passed in 2006 is designed to automatically ban any “successor” organisations set up by proscribed groups.

Home Office lawyers are drawing up the necessary parliamentary order implementing the ban so it can be debated by MPs within days.

The move came as MPs heard evidence of tensions within government over the direction of the official programme aimed at preventing violent extremism.

Written evidence from the Local Government Association (LGA) for a special Commons select committee held in a Birmingham mosque yesterday, confirmed that tension between the Home Office’s office of security and counterterrorism and the Department of Communities and Local Government had been a problem at times.

The LGA said the heart of the disagreements had been the focus of the Prevent programme, with the communities secretary, John Denham, arguing that it should be part of the broader work on community cohesion and equalities. “Police and the security services will necessarily see things in a different perspective,” an LGA memo said.

Its evidence said that the security services have moved away from developing a profile of a “typical extremist”, to a more rounded analysis of potential risks and interventions.

Evidence from the Association of Chief Police Officers to the MPs’ inquiry said that so far 228 young adults aged under 25 “who have been inspired by the al-Qaida ideology” have been referred to the Channel Project, which provides support to those believed to be vulnerable to radicalisation.

Johnson ‘Will Back’ Wootton Bassett Islamic March Ban

(BBC) – THE HOME SECRETARY has said he will back any request from police or local government to ban an Islamic group marching through Wootton Bassett.

Alan Johnson said he felt “revulsion” at the thought of Islam4UK’s proposed march through the Wiltshire town.

Wootton Bassett has become famous for its repatriation ceremonies for fallen British service personnel.

Islam4UK says it wants to parade empty coffins through the town to draw attention to Afghan war casualties.

Mr Johnson said: “The idea that anyone would stage this kind of demonstration in Wootton Bassett fills me with revulsion.

“I find it particularly offensive that the town, which has acted in such a moving and dignified way in paying tribute to our troops who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, should be targeted in this manner.”

He added: “If the Wiltshire Police and local authority feel that a procession of this kind has the potential to cause public disorder and seek my consent to a banning order, then I would have no hesitation in supporting that request.”

Islam4UK, which has been linked to the radical al-Muhajiroun movement, said the town was chosen to create maximum publicity.

Anjem ChoudarySpokesman Anjem Choudary said: “We are having a procession, it’s in Wootton Bassett but it’s not about the people there and it’s not against them personally – rather it’s to highlight the real cost of war in Afghanistan.

“The sad reality of the situation is that if I were to hold it somewhere else it would not have the media attention that it has now.

“If I am to balance between the sensitivity of having it in Wootton Bassett and the possibility of continuing the quagmire and cycle of death in Afghanistan, then quite honestly I’m going to balance in favour of the latter.”

‘Dangerous and divisive’

Wiltshire Police said it had not received an application from any group to hold a march in the town.

Marches and demonstrations can be banned if police believe they are likely to endanger public order.

Earlier, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and the town’s MP James Gray all condemned the group’s plans.

North Wiltshire MP Mr Gray told BBC Radio 5 live: “Fine Mr Choudary, say what you want, I detest what you say, but please, please don’t come to Wootton Bassett.”

Social Cohesion Minister Shahid Malik added: “Anjem Choudary rightly has a reputation as a dangerous and divisive figure in the UK, however, he does not speak for Muslims in the UK.”

Wootton Bassett’s mayor Councillor Steve Bucknell said the town, which has a population of just over 11,000, was entirely inappropriate for any march, protest or demonstration which refers to Afghanistan or Iraq.

“We are going to do our utmost to make sure that this march doesn’t go ahead,” he said, adding that the town’s council had received dozens of e-mails and phone calls from people concerned with the issue.

Locals have turned out to honour the corteges of more than 100 service personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, as they made their way from nearby RAF Lyneham to a morgue in Oxford.

Islam4UK said its march would not coincide with a repatriation ceremony.

… (Julian Ware-Lane, 04/01/2010) – Islam4UK should not be allowed to march through Wootton Bassett

House-holder Self Defence Up For Review

(politics.co.uk) – MINISTERS COULD REVIEW the law on self-defence when householders are threatened by violence from burglars, following Conservative calls.

Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling has called for judges to shift the legal balance between the burglar and the householder towards the latter.

Home secretary Alan Johnson responded yesterday by acknowledging a review was possible.

“I’m sure in government given the amount of public concern about it I’m sure we would [review the law],” he said on the Andrew Marr programme.

Mr Grayling had suggested that people faced with violence from burglars should be able to take the law into their own hands.

He told this morning’s Today programme that if the Tories came to power ministers would force courts to “apply a higher threshold” as to whether disproportionate force was applied or not, in a case where a householder had used violence to defend themselves.

The Conservatives want people to be given the right to use levels of force that are not deemed to be “grossly disproportionate”.

“The comment by the judge was ‘we can’t have people taking the law into your own hands’. Very often people will want to take the law into their own hands,” Mr Grayling told the Today programme.

“What we should do is set a higher bar for the courts to say we, the society, want you to provide a higher level of protection to the householder.”

Mr Grayling’s comments come a week after a man whose family had been tied up by a burglar was jailed.

Munir Hussain had used a cricket bat to beat one of the burglars. The case is going to appeal.

Around 20 cases where an intruder has been the victim of violence by the householder have taken place in the last decade, Mr Grayling claimed.

He said that the Tories’ priority in this situation would be to ensure that people would not stop to consider their “legal position” before defending themselves.

“If you discover somebody standing over your bed in the small hours of the morning… you should be able to use violence to defend yourself,” Mr Grayling added.

He declined to comment on the Hussain case.

The government insists it has already acted to strike the right balance.

Mr Johnson said yesterday that it was “impossible not to feel uncomfortable”.

“There was nothing in this case that constricted or restricted the judge to make the decision he did,” he pressed.

Record Level Of British Population Is Foreign Born

(Telegraph) – MORE THAN ONE IN TEN PEOPLE living in Britain today were born abroad, a record level, new figures show.

The proportion of the population who are foreign-born has almost doubled in the past two decades to 11 per cent, or 6.7 million people.

One of the key factors behind Britain’s population increase has been the flow of migrant workers from Poland, Lithuania and six other Eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004.

At the same time, the percentage of children being born to foreign mothers has also reached new levels, reported Jil Matheson, the national statistician.

The Office for National Statistics figures showed that in 2008 some 11 per cent of the population were born abroad, up from around 8 per cent in 2001 and 6.7 per cent in 1991. Figures are not available for 1997 when Labour came to power but, based on trends, is likely to have been just over 7 per cent.

Britain’s population is on course to pass 70 million in around two decades, Ms Matheson warned. She said projections based on past demographic trends suggest a 17 per cent increase in population over the next 25 years to hit 71.6 million by 2033.

It currently stands at 61.4 million and ministers have insisted the landmark total will not be reached.

The figures are likely to fuel recent claims by a former Government adviser that Labour deliberately ran an open-door policy on immigration to radically change the country and “rub the Right’s nose in diversity”.

Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, and both his Conservative and Liberal Democrat counterparts will today stage a key debate on immigration.

Damian Green, the shadow immigration minister, said: “This Government has never had any control over immigration numbers. Some Government insiders have said this was a deliberate plot, others claim it was just a mistake.

“Either way they have left our borders unprotected. It is one of the biggest policy failures of the Labour years.”

The number of Eastern European nationals that are resident in Britain has risen sharply from 114,000 in 2001 to 689,000 last year. More than a tenth of them are children.

Immigration is having a double impact on population numbers because as well as those arriving in the country, the proportion of children born here to foreign mothers has also hit a new high.

Some 24 per cent of the births in England and Wales last year – or 170,834 – were to mothers born outside the country, the highest level since records began in 1969.

That is double the 12 per cent in 1990 and the proportion has increased year on year since, according to the Population Trends report, produced by the ONS.

In England alone, the proportion is now as high as 25 per cent.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch, said: “The proportion of foreign born people in Britain has almost doubled in 20 years. This is a measure of the way in which our society is being changed without the British public ever having been consulted.

“Immigration on this scale can only add to the strains in our society and the pressure on our public services.”

Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: “It is difficult for anyone to accurately forecast the population now, let alone in 30 years, after Labour and the Tories abandoned exit checks.

“We cannot know how many people live here if we do not count people out as well as in.”

Phil Woolas, the immigration minister, said: “These population projections do not take into account the impact of future government policies or those Eastern Europeans who came here, contributed, and are now going home.

“Projections are uncertain. For instance in the 1960s they said our population would reach 76 million by the year 2000, this was off target by 16 million.

“And let’s be clear the category ‘foreign born mothers’ includes British people born overseas – such as children whose parents are in the armed forces or those who come to Britain at a very early age.

“Overall, net-migration is falling, showing that migrants come to the UK for short periods of time, work, contribute to the economy and then return home.”

In October, Andrew Neather, a former adviser to Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Blunkett, claimed that the sharp increase in migrants over the past 10 years was partly due to a politically motivated attempt by ministers to boost multiculturalism.

He said Labour’s relaxation of controls in 2000-01 was a deliberate plan to “open up the UK to mass migration”, but ministers were nervous and reluctant to discuss such a move publicly for fear it would alienate its “core working-class vote”.

It centred on early drafts of a Cabinet Office report in 2000, which allegedly also had passages of possible links between immigration and crime deleted before it was published.

Cabinet ministers have denied any suggestions of “secret plots”.

Johnson Is New Home Secretary

(BBC) – HEALTH SECRETARY ALAN JOHNSON IS TO REPLACE JACQUI SMITH as home secretary, as Prime Minister Gordon Brown carries out a make-or-break reshuffle.

Alistair Darling stays as chancellor but Defence Secretary John Hutton is leaving government —although he is said to be remaining loyal to Mr Brown.

It comes after Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell resigned with a call for the PM to ‘stand aside.’

Mr Brown is in Downing Street working on a reshuffle which is expected to see widespread changes in key jobs within the next few hours.