24-hour drinking fails to deliver café culture

Allowing bars and pubs to serve alcohol around the clock has largely failed to tackle late night violence, say police, councils and the NHS.

According to a survey published today by the Local Government Association (LGA), nearly one in three NHS Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) reports an increase in alcohol-related incidents since the 2003 Licensing Act.

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

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

And councils say that £100 million in taxpayers’ money has been paid out to implement the changes.

Sir Simon Milton, Chairman of the LGA, said: “The new system was burdened with exaggerated expectations as it was never a single solution to alcohol-related disorder.

“There needs to be a wide-ranging national debate about how freely available alcohol is, how the nation views social drinking and how we can go about reducing consumption.

“It seems that we have a deep-rooted social and cultural problem in this country in the way that we view alcohol that cannot be addressed by one simple piece of legislation. It will take years, possibly decades of concerted action across the board.”

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