A DECADE has passed since the introduction of new drinking laws in England and Wales to allow pubs to serve alcohol 24 hours a day, but opinion is divided as to what effect the Licensing Act 2005 has had on drinking culture in the UK.

The law came into effect on November 24, 2005 with the aim to end the culture of “last orders”

at 11pm and give landlords greater flexibility to decide when they wanted to close.

Supporters hoped the legislation would mean drinkers no longer had to rush to drink up by 11pm and there would no longer be drink-fuelled violence at closing time when everybody spilled out on to the street.

However, opponents warned round-the-clock drinking would lead to scenes of chaos on Britain’s streets, while the Royal College of Physicians feared an increase in alcohol consumption and police chiefs complained their forces would be stretched.

Fast forward ten years and figures seem to suggest that this Domesday scenario has not come to fruition.

Police statistics have shown the level of violent crime across the country has continued to follow a trend of steady decline over the last few decades, which has not changed in spite of the introduction of the Licensing Act.

But the change in the legislation continues to divide opinion, with some feeling although violent crime levels have dropped, there has been an increase in alcohol dependency.

Southend West MP Sir David Amess said he was opposed to the Licensing Act when it was first introduced because he did not want 24 hour drinking.

He added: “I was against it at the time.

“Ten years on, I think a number of the people who were thinking of remaining open and taking advantage of it for economic reasons did not do so in the end and I personally have always favoured local authorities having the power over this.”

Sir David said he supported the more accountable system introduced by giving local authorities jurisdiction over licensing applications and enabling residents to air their views on the plans.



THE Association of Town and City Management has broadly welcomed the introduction of 24 hour drinking, stating that people were tending to stay at home longer before heading out.

Shanaaz Carroll, chief executive of the organisation, said: “The evening and night time economy has grown significantly in recent years and is now worth over £66 billion to UK plc.

“There have been some clear changes in behavioural patterns since the introduction of 24hr drinking, but while new challenges have had to be faced in town and city centres, many opportunities to grow and diversify the evening economy have also emerged. The traditional night out in pubs and clubs is still very popular, but people are starting later in the evening, as alcohol price competition from supermarkets means individuals and groups tend to stay at home longer before going out.

“In this situation we are seeing many examples, especially in Purple Flag areas where town management, public, private and charitable sectors are working together to ensure safety for visitors and consumers, that the offer is professionally run, and indeed diversifying so a night out offers much more than just a focus on alcohol.”