Pubs in Leamington have largely welcomed government plans to scrap Britain's outdated licensing laws and allow round-the-clock drinking. New laws being considered by ministers could see 24 - hour opening in England and Wales as early as next summer. According to a leaked report of a Home Office White Paper to be published before summer, pubs will be allowed to close when they choose and to serve alcohol all night if they want (1).
Power over granting alcohol licenses will be handed to local authorities instead of magistrates, allowing neighborhoods more say over the hours of their local bars, pubs and clubs. The relaxation, which will bring Britain in line with the Continent, will be accompanied by tougher penalties on landlords who tolerate under - age drinking or rowdy behavior. It's also proposed that police officers of superintendent rank or above will be able to close pubs prone to disturbances or violence. The dangers of round-the- clock drinking are being covered up by the Government, according to medical experts.
Leaked documents reveal that ministers have cut a report from an advisory panel to play down the damage that could be caused by Labour's new licensing laws. The report warned that relaxing existing opening hours could have serious health 'Relaxing the law governing availability increases general harm,' warned the experts. 'This happens whether it comes through more outlets (such as in Finland), denser outlets (California) or longer hours (Western Australia).' However, when their final report was published, this section had been cut out, prompting accusations that ministers had censored material that went against their policy.
One of the experts involved in the report, Professor Griffith Edwards of the National Addiction Centre, strongly criticized the censorship. 'I have seldom seen a consensus of informed scientific advice so thrashed and ignored,' he said. The revelations raise fresh doubts about the proposed overhaul of licensing hours, which will introduce 24 - hour opening to Britain. Ministers say the European approach will reduce drunken violence in town centers. But senior police officers claim the opposite is true (2).
They say 24 - hour drinking will fuel greater violence, while medical experts also warn that it will dramatically impair health. The Association of Chief Police Officers warned the Government that the plans for round-the-clock drinking could turn city centers into violent no-go areas. Association president Chris Fox said forces 'cannot deal with binge drinking - it is beyond police capability' (2). The officers warned that an 11 per cent rise in violent offences last year was largely caused by the growing number of fights between drunken thugs in town and city centers (2). Health experts have also warned that the Government's open-all hours plan will make problems worse rather than better. earlier this year, Professor Colin Drummond, a specialist in addiction psychiatry at St George's Hospital in South London, said many young people would use longer opening hours to drink even more than they do now. 'Anyone who has been to Ibiza can tell you what happens when the British encounter a 24 - hour licence,' he said. ...