24-hour booze licences at record high

The number of pubs, bars and nightclubs which have been granted a 24-hour drinking licence has rocketed in the last two years, Government figures show.

Labour’s controversial 24-hour drinking laws have come under sustained pressure and in July the coalition Government said they would reform the licensing system.

The new figures, from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, reveal 7,800 premises have all-day drinking licences.


Of this figure, 1,000 are pubs, bars and nightclubs which is a 43 per cent rise since 2008.

The latest statistics, which show licenses as of March this year, also reveal the numbers of premises allowed to sell alcohol are at their highest since records began over 100 years ago.

On Wednesday Home Secretary Theresa May again said the liberalising of the alcohol laws had not produced the expected ‘café-culture’.

Under Home Office consultation proposals, fines for those who persistently sell booze to children would be doubled to £20,000 and councils would be given powers to charge more for late-night licences.


The Home Office said on Wednesday that responses to the consultation were being considered.

Labour’s 24-hour drinking laws have come under fire from many quarters with Labour grandee Roy Hattersley and ex-Met Police chief Sir Ian Blair among the critics.

Speaking earlier this year Mr Hattersley called the laws a “terrible mistake”, saying they had taken a devastating toll on society.

“Thousands of families are having their lives made hideous by the brawling, drunken hooligans in their streets”, he commented.


Sir Ian said that the concentration of drinking establishments “has produced a pretty unpleasant atmosphere for almost everybody”.

And referring to the promised ‘café culture’ that 24-hour drinking was meant to bring, he continued: “The idea we were going to turn into some Italian piazza, sipping wine population, I do not think is going to happen.

“Whoever was suggesting it might not have noticed a winter like ours makes cafes pretty uncomfortable places outside.”


BBC presenter John Humphrys also slammed the all-day drinking laws saying his home city of Cardiff was blighted by alcohol-fuelled violence.

Mr Humphrys said that the police officers he spoke to all blamed both 24-hour drinking and new planning laws which have allowed many “vertical drinking establishments” to be built.

“There is nowhere to sit and chat over a quiet pint, nowhere even to rest your glass. You stand and drink”, he said.

Mr Humphrys commented: “Everyone I spoke to told me the same thing: ‘We’re here to get drunk.'”

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