Travellers face total drinking ban on trains and buses

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The Independent Online

The total ban on drinking on all forms of public transport is among around 40 measures discussed at a recent Chequers summit chaired by Tony Blair. The drinking ban is said to be "strongly supported" by the British Transport Police.

Among other proposals contained in a leaked account of the meeting is a new power to allow councils to seize the homes of people convicted of seriously anti-social behaviour. Another is the proposal for new "respect sheriffs" so that each community has a "visible local figure accountable for respect".

The summit, which took place last month, was intended to bring forward ideas to tackle anti-social behaviour in time for a Safer Communities Bill to be unveiled within the next few months. Although the initiatives are so far at an early stage they will deepen internal discomfort at the direction of Mr Blair's crackdown on yobbery.

Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary and Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, were recently forced to provide £30m each towards funding a new "Respect tsar", Louise Casey. John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, saw off a similar demand and is thought to be one of the biggest critics of Ms Casey's proposals.

The leaked document records that there is "some early resistance from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister" about the plans for local sheriffs. The idea of seizing homes of anti-social families is also noted as having attracted the opposition of officials in the ODPM because it is "difficult and controversial".

The Crown Prosecution Service is recorded as having doubts over offenders as young as 14 having to make reparations to their victims, either by paying money or by clearing up mess.

The most eye-catching initiatives under consideration are all designed to tackle binge-drinking. As well as the transport drinking ban, Mr Blair is being urged to consider forcing the police to breathalyse anyone arrested for violence and bringing in harsher controls on drunkenness within city-centre "hotspots".

Some of the proposed measures are uncontroversial. They include new police powers to close drug dens and housing benefit sanctions for badly-behaved tenants.

New parenting orders, meanwhile, will make parents responsible for "grounding" excluded children for five days after they have been thrown out of school, under the leaked plans.

Mr Blair made "respect" a key theme of his third term in office and is convinced that he has the public's backing for a crackdown on anti-social behaviour.

However, his choice of Ms Casey, an unelected civil servant, as his Respect tsar has ruffled his colleagues' feathers.