Humphrys and Blair: 24hr drinking ruining our cities

The effects of Labour’s 24-hour drinking policy have been disastrous, the BBC’s John Humphrys and ex-Met Police chief Sir Ian Blair have said.

Sir Ian believes that the policy of all-day drinking was a “serious mistake” while Mr Humphrys has slammed the alcohol-fuelled violence in his home city of Cardiff.

Sir Ian, who left the Met Police in 2008, said the hoped for ‘café culture’ was never achievable for Britain and now our cities need to be saved from the chaos left behind.


He 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.”

He made clear that a re-think was now needed on the issue.


Sir Ian said he expressed concerns about the 24-hour drinking policy to politicians but was told that they were going to continue regardless.

Last week John Humphrys wrote in the Daily Mail that his home city of Cardiff was blighted by alcohol-fuelled violence.

And, he said, the violence he saw is being replicated across the country.

Mr Humphrys wrote: “The first thing that surprised me was that St Mary Street – the main one running through the city centre – had been blocked off.


“Instead of cars passing through, there were police vans and ambulances parked in the street – just in case they were needed, I was told.

“There’s no ‘in case’ about it. They are always needed. The ambulances operate as mobile accident and emergency units and the police vans contain extra reinforcements for when trouble breaks out.

“Again, you will notice I say ‘when’ and not ‘if’. Trouble always breaks out.”


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.

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

The BBC presenter said: “Everyone I spoke to told me the same thing: ‘We’re here to get drunk.'”


The comments came as research for the Conservative Party showed the numbers of women convicted of assault has greatly increased since 2004, the last full year before 24-hour drinking was introduced.

The Home Office said that alcohol was a factor in half of all violent incidents.

Related Resources