All-day drinking laws consume police time

MPs have recommended an end to happy hour drinks promotions to curb binge drinking, though critics say they have failed to accept that all-day drinking is a major cause.

The recommendations come from a select committee of MPs. The committee heard evidence from police that longer opening hours now mean more officers are needed across a larger area to deal with late-night violence.

They said that the increasing need for weekend policing was dictating shift patterns and consuming resources.

“The net effect is there are fewer officers on duty during the rest of the week to deal with other types of crime and fewer opportunities to be seen in their communities,” said Steve Green, Chief Constable of Nottingham Police.

The evidence given to the committee was set out in a report called Policing in the 21st Century.

“What is clear,” the report said, “is that forces now deploy resources to deal with alcohol-related crime and disorder for longer periods of time, as a result of longer opening hours, and in larger areas, as late-night drinking is no longer confined to city centres.”

However, the MPs have decided to address the problem by calling time on happy hour drinks promotions.

Although the availability of cheap alcohol was also cited as a cause, critics say that the strategy is missing the problem of 24-hour opening.

Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said: “This is a shocking indictment of Labour’s reckless approach to extended licensing and top-down target-driven approach which has resulted in perverse outcomes,” he said.

In Sydney, Australia authorities recently took the decision to abolish 24-hour drinking in the city in order to curb late night violence.

The Local Government Association has warned that 24-hour drinking, which it was initially promised would lead to a continental café-style drinking culture, had in some cases increased drunken violence.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has also urged the Government to clamp down on binge drinking, saying drink-related problems have become “unacceptably high”.

A BMA report said: “Despite the evidence that increased opening hours and availability of alcohol are associated with greater consumption and alcohol-related problems, recent and proposed changes to licensing policies in the UK have favoured extended trading hours.”