The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) questioned whether it was wise to extend opening hours at a time when Britain was gripped by a “culture of excessive drinking.” It said increasingly late licences and the binge drinking epidemic had already led to a sharp rise in drink-fuelled violence and antisocial behaviour.
Unless there was a more “holistic” approach to tackling the booze culture, more and more police resources would be used up tackling drunken yobs, ACPO warned.
Under the Licensing Act, pubs, clubs, bars and off-licences can apply for round-the-clock licences from yesterday.
These licenses will come into force in November and will create the biggest shake-up of the licensing laws in England and Wales in 40 years.
Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell issued a strong defence of the plans, insisting the new measures were about introducing “flexible licensing, not 24-hour drinking.”