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Now, on to enforcement of Liquor Licence Act

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We here in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) talk up a good storm and can easily identify the things that need to be rectified in our society, but when it comes to the implementation and enforcement of our laws, we are not so hot.

Although the Liquor Licence Act has been on our books for a very long time (its last revision was 1992), it is common for children to be sent to the shop to buy liquor (or cigarettes) for adults, for children to serve or sell alcohol, and for teenagers under the age of 18 to be observed drinking alcohol at public or private functions.

It is conceivable that some people may not have been aware of these provisions of the Act and may have acted out of ignorance. Others who were aware may have observed, murmured and grumbled, but until now, no concerted effort has been made to educate the public about what the Act says about underage drinking and the penalties for those who break the law.

This is why the current campaign by the National Commission on Crime Prevention (NCCP) to heighten awareness of the Liquor Legislation in SVG, especially as it pertains to minors, is welcomed. The NCCP says that the awareness campaign is part of its activities for Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month (April) and as a response to: (i) the mandate from the Prime Minister to be tough on the causes of crime (ii) the public’s outcry about the increased abuse of alcohol by young persons and (iii) the fact that alcohol abuse and misuse inevitably leads to the use of harder illegal drugs. It is now up to the police to enforce the provisions of the Act. The public will expect them to. The very young people at whom the awareness campaign is aimed will welcome it; a structured, orderly environment makes our children, indeed everyone, feel safe.

The NCCP should not stop with the Liquor Legislation and should ride the wave of success of this most recent campaign by looking at other areas of the Law which need to be more strictly enforced – some more critical than others.

For example, there must be something on our law books to prohibit people (mostly men, but women have been known to also be culprits) from using any convenient spot by the roadside as a urinal when nature calls. It may just be our perception, but sightings of men furtively leaning against buildings and walls, or wherever they get the opportunity, seem to be increasing. Not only is this act unsightly, it is also poses a risk to public health. But to enforce this, we must first work to make available around Kingstown some strategically placed, sanitary washroom facilities, complete with staff.

Good job, NCCP, with the Liquor Legislation awareness programme. Now, on to your next project.

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