Towns ‘like Wild West’ with 24-hour drinking

All-day drinks laws have failed to curb violence outside pubs and clubs, police officers say.

The Police Federation of England and Wales, representing around 140,000 officers, says that police resources are being diverted away from emergency calls because they are needed to deal with late-night disorder.

Simon Reed, Vice Chairman of the Federation, told MPs on the Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee: “At times, policing is being really stretched, often in the smaller towns more than in the bigger cities.

“My impression of many market towns is they are really like the Wild West on occasion because they are really stripped of resources.”

In a submission to the committee, which is currently looking at the operation of the Licensing Act 2003, the Federation warned: “All too frequently, our members cannot attend to emergency calls because they are tied up with intervening in pub fights or drunken street brawls.”

New measures announced by the Government to address binge drinking were dismissed at the weekend as an admission that the introduction of 24-hour drinking had failed.

Commenting on the Federation’s calls for more money to help control the late-night violence, Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said the police were being expected to deal with the problem “with one arm tied behind their backs”.

He said: “This is a clear illustration of the consequences of Labour’s decision to simply unleash 24-hour drinking on our towns and cities as well as their failure to tackle those who sell and consume alcohol irresponsibly.”