Met chief: Make pubs pay for policing

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Sir Ian Blair, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has called on pub operators to help pay for the costs of policing the Government's new 24-hour drinking laws.

Sir Ian said yesterday that late night drinkers should be treated in the same way as football fans and that if football clubs had to pay for the policing of matches so pub companies should pay towards the cost of keeping the streets safe in the early hours.

"Football fans are a special interest group and anyone who wants a drink at 3am is also a special interest group and should pay for it," the Met chief told the Confederation of British Industry's annual conference.

He said that most of the public would rather have the police on the streets at 4pm than 4am, but if they had to be there at that time because of all-day drinking, then the pub industry had a duty to help bear the financial cost.

The Metropolitan Police has a budget of £3bn and it has 49,000 staff. The police force is the biggest single employer in London.

One-quarter of its recruits are graduates but Sir Ian said the Met wanted to bring in less qualified people, a bit like teaching assistants employed at schools, so that graduate police officers could make better use of their skills.

Sir Ian also said he welcomed the investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission into his handling of the fatal shooting of the Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes. The family of the dead man have complained that Sir Ian misled them by saying he was directly linked to the anti-terrorist operation that followed the failed London bombings on 21 July.

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