24-hr drinking blamed as alcohol deaths soar

Alcohol related deaths have increased dramatically under Labour, it has emerged.

Among men, alcohol related death rates have shot up by 43 per cent and female rates have risen by a third since 1999.

Overall alcohol related deaths rose by almost 40 per cent in ten years from 5,287 in 1999 to 7,341 in 2008.

Critics say Labour’s 24-hour drinking laws are to blame.

Conservative MP James Brokenshire, who obtained the figures, said: “I am increasingly worried that the Government’s decision to introduce 24-hour drinking is having a real impact on anti-social behaviour in our town centres and not nearly enough is being done to tackle it.”

Professor Ian Gilmore, President of the Royal College of Physicians warned about the dangers of alcohol stating that the “Government can and should do more”.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “We are tackling this serious problem by making sure the local NHS has the right services in place.”

The introduction of 24-hour drinking under the 2003 Licensing Act has been widely criticised.

According to a survey published last year by the Local Government Association (LGA), nearly one in three NHS Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) reported an increase in alcohol-related incidents since the law changed.

Half of police authorities said that far from creating the promised continental-style café culture in the UK, the new laws simply pushed alcohol-related violence later into the evening.

Seven in ten police authorities, PCTs and councils said that 24-hour drinking has either increased or failed to change levels of alcohol-related incidents.

Last August Mike Craik, Chief Constable of Northumbria Constabulary, said: “What 24-hour licensing has done is to give us more problems at three, four and five in the morning.

“Every force, certainly every force with a big town centre, is experiencing similar problems.”

Andy Trotter, Deputy Chief Constable of the British Transport Police, agreed. He said: “The new laws may have brought an end to the 11pm rush but the downside is that police forces now have to deploy large numbers of officers through the night – sometimes to deal with extremely violent incidents – which means fewer resources are available for normal policing during the day.”

In October 24-hour drinking laws were scrapped in Sydney Australia in a bid to curb alcohol-fuelled violence. Binge drinking had led to attacks on residents and police officers.

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