Drunk, but out of trouble | india | Hindustan Times
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Drunk, but out of trouble

Statistics showed a drop in the crime rate in Britain after pubs were allowed to stay open 24x7, reports Vijay Dutt.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2006 04:53 IST
Vijay Dutt

When Britain relaxed the licensing laws in November last year permitting pubs and bars to stay open 24X7, critics said it would lead to chaos: rise in crime and anti-social behaviour. They have been proved wrong.

Comparative statistics released by the police on Wednesday said the new laws have only made the town less violent, with serious violent crime falling by more than a fifth. Major industrial cities, seaside resorts and market towns have all reported a dramatic fall in alcohol-fuelled assaults.

In Bradford, it was revealed that in the five weeks after the Licensing Act came into force, 28 assaults and cases of disorder were reported (against 44 during the same period in 2004). In the otherwise notorious Birmingham city centre, 326 instances of anti-social behaviour were recorded in December (61 less than in the same month a year earlier).

The statistics confounded critics who warned that the Licensing Act, which allowed 24-hour drinking from November 15, would lead to an upsurge in violence and anti-social behaviour. Brewers have also reported only a modest increase in profits, suggesting that the forecast - by anti-liquor activists - of a drinking free-for-all has not materialised.

Violent crime was 21 per cent lower in the last three months of last year than during the same period in 2004. The number of "woundings" fell by 14 per cent and the total for all violent crimes dropped by 11 per cent.

Licensing Minister James Purnell has been quoted as saying: "The predictions that licensing reform would lead to an immediate upsurge in crime haven't been borne out... It was always our argument that by getting rid of the firm 11 p.m. closing time you would also get rid of a number of flashpoints."

Spokesman for the British Beer and Pub Association said the Act was leading to "positive changes" in drinking behaviour.