Thursday, April 03, 2008

Boris Plans to Ban Alcohol on the Tube

This morning Boris Johnson has announced a new policy of banning alcohol on the London Underground.

“London has a higher rate of alcohol-related crimes than any other region in England and I have been told time and again that people are scared of taking the Underground late at night because of aggressive behaviour by drunken yobs.Too many people find themselves forced to sit opposite someone swigging from a can of lager and engaging in behaviour that is intimidating or worse. I want everyone’s journeys to be safer and more pleasant"

Public disorder offences on the Tube increased 32.2% last year, criminal damage was up by 36.9% and sexual offences were up by 14.9%. British Transport Police Chief Constable Ian Johnston said in 2005 that there had been an increase in alcohol related crimes on public transport; "We flag crimes that have an alcohol connection. So if we arrest a burglar or a robber who's drunk we flag the crime. And we've had about a 30% increase in that level of flagging across the force over the last year."

As a liberal Conservative I instinctively recoil from banning things. However, is it liberal to allow tube users to be abused by drunken louts? No, definitely not. I think this policy will be welcomed by many as long as it is policed properly.


Anonymous said...

The Tube is one of those places where I rarely see drunken louts these days. It's a gimmick.

Maybe such a ban could come into force after 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays, but a blanket ban would be excessive and unnecessary.

Jon Swaine said...

Could he ban cornish pasties while he's at it? Foul plague.

Anonymous said...

Banning booze on the tube will solve none of this, people are drunk when the get on the tube. They don't sit on the train and THEN get drunk.

strapworld said...

Whilst I believe that Boris has a possible vote winner here. I urge some caution.

The tubes at night are an absolute disgrace and everyone runs the risk of abuse, or more, from drunken louts (both women and men).

Is there not a specific offence of being Drunk on the Tube in existence?

If so the Ian Johnston should be asked why arrests have not increased with the increase of stats of drunkenness on the Tube!

The thought of a little old lady, who won the bottle of Sherry at a London venue! being arrested for carrying alcohol on the tube!may be embarrasing for Boris.

Anonymous said...

I can't help thinking that the biggest problem is drinking in public, anywhere.

Ban drinking on the street, busses, tubes etc., and you'll have a good start to solving the problem!

Are these people so desperate for a drink that they can't wait until they get to the pub, or get home?

Anonymous said...

I think I'm probably a lot more liberal than you Iain, and I'm sick to death of people drinking alcohol on the tube - it's not just cans, it's bottles too, wine as well as beer.
Taking the tube on a Friday or Saturday evening is now a really unpleasant experience. Some of them are just boisterous, which is bad enough when you're the only sober one in the carriage, but a lot of them are aggressive.
My mother came down to London last night, and it seemed the whole time we were out of the theatre was spent avoiding pissed people. Not nice.
Any sane person would be delighted this policy.

Anonymous said...

I despair.

What in the name of all that is holy is that going to make any sort of difference ?

I would have thought that being agressive and loutish on the tube was already illegal anyway, so why not enforce EXISTING laws before engaging in posturing politics ?

This sort of people does not get drunk in the tube anyway, but before that, so I fail to see what sort of effect this will have.

As it is, I have had pleasant journeys on the tube late at night because people can also be funny when slightly worse for wear.

You're not a liberal, Mr Dale, and the more you say you are, the less I believe you.

Anonymous said...

Why not just ban louts?

Why should i not be able to have a drink on the Tube if i want to?

Anonymous said...

Why not just deny them access to the Tube if they appear to be drunk, like you can't board an airliner if you're drunk?

Blackacre said...

Completely irrelevant policy - the problems on tubes are those who are already drunk. At least louts with one hand round a precious Stella only have one hand left to cause any damage!

Anonymous said...

I'd go one further and ban drunks from the Tube. Not sure how that would work in practice as it would require more station staff on duty but it would begin to address the increasing problem of unacceptable behaviour in public. It woudl be really good if something could be done about behaviour on buses as well.

I too am instinctively against banning things but people also have to take the consequenfes of their actions and if the consequence of being drunk is being barred from the Tube and buses, people might start to modify their drinking.

Whatever the pointy-headed 'studies' may say, it's clear as day to most of us that the probnlem has got very much worse since NuLab introduced 24-hour drinking.

ma said...

okay this is definitely cheap headline territory. people don't get drunk on the tube. a few people might swig from a can but they are either already drunk (having done their drinking elsewhere) or are on their way to being drunk (and being drunk elsewhere). the very few people this is aimed at don't sit on the tube drinking for more than a few minutes. of course, banning drunk people from the tube rather than alcohol would be far more effective, if faintly ridiculous...

Newmania said...

Drinking whilst actually on the Tube is not the problem and whilst I agree it can be a frightening place this will not help.
What is required is the same thing that is required for all crime at low levels ,a Police presence. Still his heart is in the right place and it can`t hurt

PS This was in the Telegraph this morning ....

Anonymous said...

I don't know how long the average tube ride is but I'd guess it's alot shorter than the (on average) half an hour that it takes for alcohol to enter the bloodstream and actually incur drunkenness.

I like Boris and I want him to win but I don't see how this policy will help, surely it will just ensure that people a bit less drunk than they otherwise would have been about ten minutes after they leave the tube.

Windsor Tripehound said...

Monoi said...

... why not enforce EXISTING laws ...

Totally agree. Do the offences of "drunk and disorderly" and "drunk and incapabale" still exist? If they do, why not enforce them rather than agonising about what to do about binge drinkers?

I also agree with a previous poster that eating or drinking anything on the underground should be banned. I say this having had the pleasure of being in a crowded carriage close to a moron working his way through a chinese take-away.

You don't have to rowdy and aggressive to be an antisocial nuisance.

P.S. Being a Tory doesn't mean that you agree with complete individual freedom; it means that you recognise the value of the accumulated wisdom of the past, and that includes the value of good manners.

Anonymous said...

Good idea, but how will it be enforced? Have you ever seen a policeman in a tube carriage? Will it be down to citizens arrest?

Boris needs to beware of 'soundbite' policies that in the end come to nothing. We've had enough of that from Labour.

Anonymous said...

machiavelli said...
".... is bad enough when you're the only sober one in the carriage, but a lot of them are aggressive."

The opposite can be a strange experience, when you are still pissed after a heavy lunchtime/afternoon drinking session and are going home in a crowded carriage full of stone-cold sober commuters.

Old BE said...

Can we have a ban on hot food too? Smelling people's Maccy D's is disgusting in a crowded carriage.

Greg said...

Why would an abusive lout - someone who obviously has no respect for the law in the first place - abide by this?

I.e. it won't have any effect on the people it's meant to be targetting and will just penalize law-abiding citizens.

Stupid idea.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely pointless (people get drunk, then get on the tube), impossible to enforce (will it be a ban on taking alchohol on the tube and hence a bag search on the way in - let's hope I don't have a bottle of wine in my shopping to go with dinner. Or will it be a ban on consumption, in which case where will the enforcement officers be to watch for every mouthful? "No I'm not drinking it, I'm just carrying it home".)

And as to the person who wants to ban anyone on public transport who has been drinking... How do you suggest people get home? What you are really suggesting is that people only drink in their own homes isn't it? Do you actually have any friends?

Anonymous said...

The existing byelaws seem to be comprehensive enough to stop this sort of behaviour if TFL's staff were willing to enforce these

Anonymous said...

I don't understand how the British think being drunk in public, and forcing drunken behaviour on fellow citizens, is somehow normal behaviour. It's not. I've never seen this base loutishness anywhere else in the world. I lived in France for two years and I never saw anyone the worse for wear.

In the superb Singapore mass transit system, food, snacks and beverages are banned. The result is spotless stations with absolutely no discarded crisp packs, sandwich wrappings, polysterene takeaway cartons, and no discarded cans or bottles. And it doesn't smell of crisps and other people's takeaways.

The only people who try to carry beverages onto the transit system are foreigners, and they are stopped and told to chuck their cans or bottles in bins at the entrance or proceed to their destination on foot.

Result, a clean, fresh, civilised and orderly travelling experience.

In Mexico, you may not take as much as one sip out of a can of beer on the street. You can't carry a six pack or a single can from the liquor store to your car in the open. It has to be in a black plastic bag. Otherwise, if a policeman sees you, you'll be fined.

Only in slovenly, yobby Britain does anything go. They're only comfortable travelling in a mobile pigstyes.

Anonymous said...

I hope he bans eating disgusting smelling McDonalds and KFC as well. There's a case to be made on health and safety grounds now that some stations are overrun with rats and mice attracted chav food. South Kensington in particular is knee deep in vermin.
And while he's at it he can take free bus and tube passes away from teenagers. They're already unhealthy lard buckets and now that they can taken the bus or tube for short one or two stop journeys rather than walk their health has plummetted even further.

Anonymous said...

well, as for banning drunk people from the underground, I often take the tube after a refreshing evening, as do many others. I wonder how many people would really support a ban?

I'm utterly sick of people blaming alcohol for bad or illegal behaviour. When I'm on the tube and as the newt, I sit - or stand - quietly, and concentrate furiously to make sure I don't miss my stop. Can't see that I'm harming anyone. The aggressive t**ts who try and start fights should be kicked off for trying to start a fight.

Unlike WT I do believe in complete individual freedom, and that encompasses both the freedom of commuters not to be hassled on their way home by an a***h*** and my freedom to drink whatever I damn well please and still use the tube.

asquith said...

"As a liberal Conservative I instinctively recoil from banning things. However, is it liberal to allow tube users to be abused by drunken louts? No, definitely not."

Well, if you don't like drunken louts, then punish them. Perhaps the extra policemen that Paddick would employ could do the job. But there's no reason to victimise ordinary drinkers. I myself drink prolifically on buses, trains and in the street, and I've never committed a crime in my life.

I can see the point in tougher drink-driving restrictions, but this is just silly.

Just because you don't drink!

Anonymous said...

I see more drinking on trains than the tube... I don't think people get very drunk while travelling short-haul on trains of either sort - and of course, train companies actively sell alcohol to customers either on a trolley or in a dining car. I agree that the answer is to penalise beahviour rather than the act of drinking, but I do think that it can be worrying to see people swigging from beer cans on public transport - and, moreover, taht it is just one part of the coarsening of public life that people do/think it is OK to do it. When did people start needing to swig lager anywhere and everywhere? Are they so addicted or self-graifying (or both) that they can't sit down in a pub, or home or (yes) even a railway dining-car and take a drink in a civilised fashion? This behaviour is what destinguishes us from pigs and apes.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah?

Are they going to search everyone's shopping to make sure they ain't carrying booze home?

Anonymous said...

So Even Boris is referring England's Capital as a Region.
When will a party do the right , and give the whole of England a vote on whether it wishes to be balkanised in this way.
Of course this Government only preaches Democracy to the likes of China and Zimbabwe, heaven forbid it allow it to happen in the green and pleasant land they are destroying by Stealth.

Anonymous said...

Drinking alcohol on the Tube is already banned. If Boris is going to ban people carrying alcohol on the Tube as well, he's going to criminalise everyone who takes the train to a party at a friend's house after buying a bottle of wine.

Lazy headline-grabbing, which I suppose is why the Evading Standards has lapped it up.

Anonymous said...

It's the wrong way to do it.

This proposal will be seen as just dumb superficial politicking. It won't work and will be quickly exposed as a cheap stunt. As many have pointed out overground trains probably have more alcohol consumed on them than underground trains. Trains on longer overground journeys leaving London even sell alcohol. People drink regularly (not often excessively) on commuter trains. Why should one set of travellers be treated any different from others?

It wreaks of the divisive sort of policies that Labour use.

The problem is the 24 hour drinking laws and the fact that markets in Central London can sell alcohol at anytime.

Limit the times alcohol can be sold in those markets(say, generally no alcohol sales after 10pm and before 10am).
and the problem of drinking on late night trains will diminish generally. Get more police on the trains and use public disorder laws to deal with unruly passengers.

Job done. Why Boris is proferring this ridiculous idea is unbelievable.

It's time that politicians stopped using blunt instruments against the whole population when smart selective targetted legislation that effects a very few, minimally, (how much profit is made from late night alcohol sales in markets?) would be just as effective.

Anonymous said...

Colin said "it's clear as day to most of us that the probnlem has got very much worse since NuLab introduced 24-hour drinking."

Ah yes, the 24hrs drinking malarkey.

Personally, I must be leading a very cloistered life because it has not made the slightest bit of difference to my experiences of going out.

Mostly because I am yet to find a pub or bar that is open past midnight that was not before.

Furthermore, I still fail to see why I should be unable to go out as late as I want (or am able to !) because the authorities cannot enforce existing laws on D&D.

It is strange how there has been this huge exercise in offence creation, with ASBOs, "feral" youths (I was having a conversation with some coppers who were saying that with all the restrictions imposed on teenagers nowadays, it is little wonder that they behave the way they do), largest number of people in prisons, etc... and yet the statistics seem to indicate (and I am not convinced either) that things are getting worse and require ever more restrictions.

Doesn't anyone find that strange ?

Maybe the "solutions" are wrong ?

hatfield girl said...

Why just the tube? And why just drinking?

Anyone planning to eat or drink in the street, on public transport etc. on their holidays in Italy will get stopped and fined. So should people on their holidays in London.

Anonymous said...

Iain, you may be a liberal on some things, but reading your blog, you regularly call for things to be banned, people to be sacked etc. you're not a liberal in the true sense of the word. you're a conservative!

Anonymous said...

I am a Conservative through and through and would instinctively back party policy unless it really offended me and this is one policy that does. Yes, it is not official party policy but I am now being asked to back someone who will stop me enjoying my can/bottle of lager on the tube on very rare occasions. I always drink it from a paper bag / plastic bag and I take the can/bottle with me out of the tube and dispose of it in a bin. Let’s sort out the thugs who cause disruption instead of criminalising innocent people who enjoy a drink while travelling. You are going to have to confront the thugs anyway when they try and bring alcohol with them / why not confront them now!!! An insane idea. Are we going to ban drinking on the railway!!! What about drinking in pubs to stop fights!

Anonymous said...

Talk about regions is EU talk (as someone says above). Government documents increasing avoid the word 'England' and refer to 'the English Regions' instead.

Of course, Boris is actually in favour of the EU.

Anonymous said...

nope, they're still at it.

Banning drinking, or limiting the sale of alcohol, because some people can't hold their drink is as lackwitted as banning petrol because some people use it in firebombs, or banning words because some people use them to make people blow themselves up.*

Prosecute them for the crimes they commit. If they don't want to be prosecuted, they won't get drunk.

* And yes, I know that we've actually done this but that doesn't mean it isn't f****** stupid.

Anonymous said...

Sockpuppet - When I go to a bar, I expect there to be a slight smell of alcohol in the air, but I am there willingly, to have a drink.

When I get into an intensely enclosed space, like a tube, the smell of sour alcohol from other people's breath is nauseating. People should not be able to assault others with nauseating smells like sour alcohol breath and takeaway food any more than they are now allowed to force other people to breathe their cigarette smoke. It's an assault.

I honestly have no interest in how much other people drink, but I don't want the second-hand smell of it forced on me in an enclosed space with no ventilation.

Anonymous said...

Rubbish. Just, rubbish. I cannot express the contempt I feel for this proposal.

It is very wrong, on principle, to attack potential causes.

Why not just prosecute people for being drunk and disorderly? We already have that, enforce it.

I rather like drinking a can on the tube from time to time. I despise the fact I'll be penalised, just as I am in some town centres now, because of lazy, sloppy law enforcement.

Disgraceful. -1 for Boris there.

Anonymous said...

verity said...
"I don't understand how the British think being drunk in public, and forcing drunken behaviour on fellow citizens, is somehow normal behaviour. It's not. I've never seen this base loutishness anywhere else in the world."

Of course, it never happens in the U.S. Everything is perfect there.

Anonymous said...

Are there any other countries that allow people to consume alcohol on public transport?

Anonymous said...

8:38 - Well, America's a big place and there are 50 states in it, and they all have different laws. But I have never seen anyone drinking on public transport in any of the states I've been in. Which is about three. You can drink on trains, in the club car. I don't know why I keep getting put up as the defender of the US. Try addressing your next comment to an American.

I don't know about Oz, but it seems to me that Britain is the most yobbish country with the most debased public behaviour in the world.

Anonymous said...

The whole issue of late night public transport and the drunken louts who use it needs addressing.

Buses and trains, not just tube.

Never mind if they are drunk before they get on or not - NO BOOZE ON THE TUBE is fine by me.

Extend it elswhere.

Anonymous said...

verity said...
"Are there any other countries that allow people to consume alcohol on public transport?"

Most other European and Anglo countries.

Anonymous said...

verity said...
"I don't know why I keep getting put up as the defender of the US."

Because you are always singing its praises and holding yourself up as an expert on that country.

Anonymous said...

10:54 - No. I'm not an expert by any means. But I defend it against ignorant, chippy, spiteful and malicious little posters who post from envy. They always pepper their conversations with lots of Americanisms, though. Oddly enough.

Anonymous said...

Intimidating behaviour is already banned Ian. The answer is not to introduce extra bans. The answer is to properly enforce existing bans.

Why make the law-abiding suffer?

Blair said...

I'm rather amazed at the response to this proposal. I'm a libertarian and I think it's a great idea. A liberal view places the highest emphasis on property rights, and nobody should have a right to drink on another person's property without their consent. So banning drinking on the Tube is entirely legitimate.

No other country I've visited allows the consumption of alcohol on public transport. Britain seems to be the only place where public drinking is tolerated. Banning drinking on the Tube is a small step to reducing antisocial elements.

Anonymous said...

verity said...

"I don't know about Oz, but it seems to me that Britain is the most yobbish country with the most debased public behaviour in the world."

When I lived in Sydney I had a phase of frequenting the Kings Cross area i.e. the red light district. It's good fun with lots of bars and clubs open 24 hours a day, lots of people (and working girls, many not bad looking), and a lot of seriously dangerous-looking biker types. The only time I ever saw any trouble was when some English scum decided to smash a window and then started to taunt an Australian into a fight. (I went looking for some police, of which there are usually several around, but before I could find any I spotted some bikers heading over to sort it out.)

Seems to me this is all a symptom of the breakdown of society. To fix it we may, as a short-term emergency measure, have to shoot and kill large numbers of oiks but the long-term solution is that society in general has to be retrained. This was, esentially, Blair's 'respect' agenda (circa 1998) until he realised it would mean confronting the middle class, not just the working class, when he avoided it like the plague.

Anonymous said...


ok, I'll go with that. I'll buy some breath fresheners. But only on the condition that smelly people are banned as well, and anyone whose views I find abhorrent is banned from talking. And people with silly accents.* And people with no dress sense are banned, they piss me right off. Especially when I have a hangover.


*Americans will be permitted to talk as long as they do so quietly. Kiwis, though, no.

Anonymous said...

Typical of the Tories, another ban. Make weed class B, ban this, ban that, restrict that. I hate the way this country is going, the Tories are as bad as Labour on civil liberties.