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Consultation on 'booze bus' clampdown ended without clear consensus

A PUBLIC consultation on proposals to clamp down on so-called booze buses has ended without a "clear consensus" on how to tackle the issue. Stormont launched a consultation seeking views on how operators should be penalised for allowing alcohol consumption on buses.

It followed concerns over socalled party or booze buses that allow drink to be carried on board and consumed.

The consultation included proposals to make it an offence for private hire companies to allow alcohol on their buses.

However, the consultation did not find a "clear consensus" on introducing any wider legislation when it concluded in October 2013. Records obtained by The Irish News show that in some cases police have confiscated hundreds of items of alcohol from children on individual occasions.

But the true scale of confiscations from private hire vehicles remains unknown because police do not record figures on this basis.

In September 2013 officers revealed they removed 131 items of alcohol from seven buses in Co Armagh transporting mostly underage teenagers to a formal after-party.

Police in Fermanagh have also warned of children as young as 13 being found intoxicated on party buses travelling to teenage discos.

Current legislation introduced in 2011 makes it illegal for bus operators to allow alcohol to be consumed on their vehicles while travelling to sports fixtures.

However, the PSNI has said they have never detected any cases of an operator or driver committing an offence. In addition, they have never prosecuted any passenger for drinking alcohol on a bus or coach on the way to a sports match.

Drinking alcohol on a bus is against the law and passengers can be fined up to £1,000.

The Department of the Environment (DoE) said that following the consultation it has discussed extending the law with the Department of Justice and "remains committed" to tackling the issue.

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