The introduction of 24-hour drinking in the UK has failed to reduce street violence, researchers have said.
Criminologists from the University of Cambridge researched crime statistics both before and after the introduction of the Licensing Act 2003 which staggered closing times beyond the traditional 11pm cut-off in a bid to curb alcohol-related trouble.
But the study’s authors said the act was built on “weak evidence that contradicted more credible and empirically-supported theories about alcohol availability and harm”, and has not succeeded in having any impact on attacks.
Dr David Humphreys, who conducted the research while at Cambridge’s Institute of Criminology, said: “Over the past decade, England and Wales have witnessed a series of political prevention initiatives for alcohol-related harm that have been implemented largely without evaluation or systematic appraisal.
“This has resulted in missed opportunities to generate evidence and a missed opportunity to learn, both of and from, any mistakes.”
Dr Humphreys also suggested the recent announcement of a “late-night levy'”in Newcastle – where premises serving beyond midnight will have to pay additional fees – would suffer from a similar lack of sound research.
“While the emphasis on change and improvement should be encouraged, the enthusiasm to act needs to be balanced with careful and systematic attempts to understand the implications and effectiveness of these interventions,” he added.
The 2003 act – introduced in November 2005 – was based on the belief staggered closing times would help avoid pinch points as revellers would not empty into the streets at the same time of night, so confrontations would be less likely, the study said.
But many opposed the act, warning that it would have the opposite effect – serving to increase alcohol-related violence as it would allow more people to continue drinking beyond the point of controlling their aggression.
The study used data from Greater Manchester Police to compare recorded rates of violence rates with licensed trading hours in wards across the city from February 2004 to December 2007 – roughly two years either side of the change.
The researchers found no change in crime figures, with the increased staggering of closing times not associated with either lower or higher rates of violence.
They also found that opening times had increased by a far lower amount than anticipated – average trading times increased between 30 to 45 minutes per premise on weekdays and by one hour and 20 minutes at weekends.
Courtesy of Press Association
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