Drunken yobs face £80 on-the-spot fines

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The Independent Online

Police have been given the power to issue on-the-spot fines to anyone buying or selling alcohol to under-18s in a government crackdown on Christmas and New Year binge-drinking. The penalty for drunk and disorderly behaviour has also been increased, from £50 to £80.

Police have been given the power to issue on-the-spot fines to anyone buying or selling alcohol to under-18s in a government crackdown on Christmas and New Year binge-drinking. The penalty for drunk and disorderly behaviour has also been increased, from £50 to £80.

Temporary medical units have been set up in Cardiff and Swansea, south Wales, to help emergency services deal with those who have drunk too much. It is hoped that the units, which operated last night and will open on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, will take the strain off the emergency services.

Police forces from more than 180 areas across England and Wales will have the power to issue the fines until 3 January next year. A similar scheme in the summer led to more than 5,600 arrests being made.

Richard Caborn, a minister at the Department of Culture, said: "The message is stark and simple - if you brawl in the street, urinate in a doorway or are sick on the kerb, you could be slapped with an £80 fine.

He added: "We are not messing around - we want decent, law-abiding people to be able to get home safely from their Christmas and New Year's parties."

Paul Evans, the head of the Police Standards Unit, said that officers would focus on areas where problems had been experienced previously. "I think that it's very, very important that we target areas which are selling [alcohol] irresponsibly and those individuals who are irresponsibly consuming," he told the BBC Breakfast programme.

Hazel Blears, a Home Office minister, also backed the new police powers. "We know that the concerted blitz to tackle alcohol-fuelled violence and sales to under-18s over the summer worked," she said. "The levels of serious violence decreased in the 92 policing areas that took part [in the summer scheme] and many in the alcohol industry were prompted to act more responsibly, abandoning 'all you can drink'-type promotions, and reviewing their policies on not serving alcohol to under-18s," the minister added.