One year on from the introduction of the UK government’s 24 hour licensing laws, the official report finds a “mixed picture” of their impact. I asked Martin and Moira Plant, of the Alcohol and Health Research Unit at the University of West of England, for their reaction to the report as they wrote our book Binge Britain: Alcohol and the National Response. This is their short, hard-hitting reply. What do you make of liberalizing alcohol laws? Let us know in the comments below.
The UK Government’s evaluation of the impact of liberalisation bar opening hours claims that this venture has had “mixed” results. In fact their report shows that this change has boosted alcohol-related crimes occurring between 3am and 6am. Some of the conclusions of this complacent report are dubious. It is claimed, for example, that there has been no increase in alcohol-related crime.
This has recently been disputed by Christopher Hope, a journalist who contacted individual police forces using the Freedom of Information Act. His inquiry indicated that police were having to handle an additional 180,000 offences a year since licensing hours were extended. Curiously, the Government report makes no mention of health. Evidence shows that in London at least, there has been a huge increase in post liberalisation alcohol-related hospital admissions. Alcohol-related mortality continues to rise.
Even so, the Government message is clear: “Binge on.”