New Licensing Act simply extends trouble later into the night

August 2008

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The relaxation of the licensing laws has failed to reduce drunken violence while costing taxpayers £100m, a report from the Local Government Association (LGA) says. The survey found that around seven in 10 police authorities, primary care trusts and councils had seen either no change or an increase in alcohol-related disorder. At the same time the cost to council taxpayers have stretched resources, with 86% of health authorities and 94% of councils reporting increased pressure. The findings were based on responses from 51 local authorities, 49 primary care trusts and 20 police forces. Around a third of primary care trusts said they had experienced a rise in alcohol-related incidents. Meanwhile, half of police authorities reported that the 2003 Licensing Act had simply led to alcohol-related disorder occurring later at night than prior to the new rules. The LGA claimed that administering the Act, which involved more than 190,000 pubs, restaurants and clubs being issued with new licences, and monitoring it had cost local authorities more than £100m. Sir Simon Milton, chairman of the LGA, said the new drinks laws had made “no impact whatsoever on reducing the alcohol-related violence that blights town centres” adding that “The vast majority of local councils, police and hospitals have reported no change at all, with violent incidents generally just being shifted later into the evening” and called for a wide-ranging national debate.

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