Tories to make tackling 24-hour drinking priority

Tackling binge drinking and the 24-hour drinking laws would be the top priority for a Conservative Home Office according to Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary.

Mr Grayling announced the policy yesterday as part of a list of five key Home Office objectives should the Tories win the next election.

Under the proposed policy, councils would have new powers to stop town centres being overrun by pubs, clubs and off-licences.

They would also be allowed to restrict opening hours.

Local residents would have the option to veto any new licences granted in their area.

According to Mr Grayling violent crime has increased 68 per cent since the introduction of 24-hour drinking laws in 2005.

He added: “What we have is a government that promised to make a big difference in dealing with crime and disorder and yet virtually everything it has done over the years has failed”.

When the 2003 Licensing Act introduced 24-hour drinking, the Government promised it would foster a continental-style café culture.

However, in September, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that the controversial 24-hour drinking laws implemented by his party in November 2005 were “not working”.

Mr Brown made the admission during his speech at the Labour Party conference and announced that local authorities would be given “power to ban 24-hour drinking throughout a community in the interests of local people”.

The Conservative Party leader David Cameron has previously blamed cheap alcohol and 24-hour drinking for fuelling crime and said that “serious changes” are needed to tackle drink-related violence and crime.

Last week delegates at Britain’s first police conference aimed at tackling alcohol-fuelled night time violence heard how the Government’s 24-hour drinking law has backfired.

Garry Shewan, Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police (GMP) told the conference that alcohol-fuelled disorder now lasts throughout the night, leaving police dangerously stretched.

He called for the 2003 Licensing Act which created 24-hour drinking to be reversed.

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