Christmas purge on binge drinking

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Indy Politics

A "Christmas crackdown" on pubs that encourage binge drinking and shops that sell alcohol to children will be announced by the Government today, amid criticism of its decision to liberalise opening hours.

Under the new alcohol enforcement action plan, spot-checks will be carried out in supermarkets by council officers and police will be urged to take account of new powers to shut venues promoting drunkenness.

Yesterday, Conservative and Liberal Democrat peers condemned the introduction of the 2003 Licensing Act - allowing 24-hour opening - and called on the Prime Minister to delay its introduction from later this month to June 2006.

Hours earlier, The Independent revealed that 546 licensees in England and Wales have been given permission to open for 24 hours a day, in contrast to government claims that there would only be a "handful" of instances of round-the-clock establishments.

The Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, is expected to launch a £150,000 poster campaign today that will warn people they face fines of £80 if they become drunk and disorderly.