Late-night drinking stretches police resources to limit

Unruly drunks are straining police resources more than ever since the alcohol licensing laws changed three years ago, a senior police figure has warned MPs.

Speaking to a policing select committee last week, Acton & Ealing custody sergeant Guy Rooney said police workload had soared since the Licensing Act 2003 allowed pubs to stay open through the night.

Intoxicated men and women now have to be policed throughout the night rather than just at the traditional pub closing time of 11pm, he said.

Rooney also claimed that at least half of the offences dealt with by custody officers were alcohol-related.

“Instead of having, dare I say, minor public order problems at traditional pub leaving time, those problems are now spread from 11pm all the way through to 4am. There is no single mad-rush timeframe outside licensed premises,” he said.

Alan Gordon, vice-chairman of officer representative body the Police Federation, agreed drink-related offences had gone up since the law changed.

“While that sounds like it might assist police because we wouldn’t have a peak of demand, it’s actually made things worse for us because we can never anticipate when we will get that peak of demand,” he told Personnel Today.

Gordon said that more officers were needed on evening duty, and diminishing resources meant those officers could not be replaced during the day.

“There is a conflict in where you decide to put officers – it’s a very difficult balancing act for HR managers deploying and working out shift patterns,” he said.

However, British Transport Police HR director Linda Scott insisted she had seen no difference in the number of alcohol-related offences since the licensing laws changed.

“There hasn’t been a huge change in the number of alcohol-related offences before and after the Act. It isn’t a concern.”


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