Pubs and clubs face compulsory charges for extra policing if they fail to prevent binge drinking, ministers have announced.
A levy will be targeted at disorderly pubs that fail to improve after an eight-week warning.
The announcement comes after Metropolitan Police chief Sir John Stevens said the new licensing laws should be re-examined because of a binge drinking "epidemic" in the UK.
Should pubs contribute to the cost of policing? Will this encourage bar owners to be responsible? How do you feel about the introduction of 24-hour drinking? Send us your views using the form on the right.
This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we received:
The issue is not just about the length of legal drinking hours, but about the culture behind drinking! Most other European cities allow drinking until the early morning hours, but binge drinking and it's related hostility and violence has only been observed (by me) in the UK and cheap popular British summer destinations abroad ie Faliraki in Rhodes. As I came to study at university in the UK, the first thing I saw in my empty halls of residence room was offers for beers and drinking in the form of leaflets on my desk. Later I observed insane/ unjustified violence by drunk students in the halls of residence. It will take many years and lots of media/ government campaigns and effort to change this very disappointing cultural image of binge drinkers in the UK.
A resounding yes, it is the choice of promotions, stock and attitude toward drinking which seems to distinguish the behaviour within public houses. As an ex-barman, I have first hand experience of how the business' attitude toward alcohol is reflected by the customer. By treating volume sales as the only measure of customer satisfaction, many of the city-centre bars/clubs are creating their own problems. Like everyone in society, publicans have a social responsibility to educate their customers.
Benjamin Feighery, Leicestershire
I don't think pubs should have to contribute towards policing, however, I do think that pubs that encourage excessive drinking through i.e. drink promotions or by not acting responsibly should be punished severely. But I do welcome the new opening times, we've been nannied for too long on this and I think it will solve the problems that have been discussed.
Ken Handley, Hove, England
Over the last 15 years successive governments have created an environment allowing pub chains to use aggressive tactics to spread their establishments throughout town and city centres against the wishes of police constabularies and local authorities. It's now pay-back time for the companies!
Michael, Leeds, UK
There is a precedent for paying for cost of policing. Football clubs have for years had to cover policing costs to provide crowd control and combat hooligans. Pubs and clubs, despite the smaller scale, should be treated no differently. Let them pay and pass the cost on to the consumers that use them.
Mark , Tonbridge, Kent
There should be shared responsibility between the drinks industry, the bars and the people who consume their products/use their premises. A percentage fee linked to takings or customer numbers along the lines of sports ground policing could be used to raise funds for the extra levels of policing required. The individuals causing the trouble could be charged £50 per night in cells for those arrested, £50 per visit to A&E for drink related incidents. These should be doubled for subsequent arrests/hospital visits as a deterrent.
Andy, Leeds, UK
I think the idea is a good one - it should make the retail industry think about people rather than profit, as they stand to lose if anti-social behaviour becomes a problem. However, I can't help thinking that this initiative will be used as an excuse for the industry to coax even more profit out of the population through raising drinks prices to justify the increase in licensing fees - not that they can't afford it.
Even after having been to University, I have never seen a bar refuse to serve anyone because they are too drunk! The conflict of interest between making money and doing what is right will mean the problem is only going to get worse with 24hour licensing. Pubs should therefore contribute to the cost of clearing up afterwards, this could be one way of fixing the conflicting interests.
Simon Jones, Liverpool, UK
I'd have thought the obscene amount of tax we pay on alcohol would already cover policing requirements. The government is just finding another excuse to make money, this time from businesses.
Jon Perrin, Lincoln, UK
How many times do we see on 'reality' TV, drunks being arrested for violence etc then being let off with no charge? Fine them and make them pay for the police manpower.
Not only should they pay policing costs, but they should also pay clean-up costs to the council for cleaning up urine and sick from the streets.
In Europe, I could go out at 10pm and have a quiet drink with friends until 12 or 1 and return home. The real problem is not cheap drink or opening hours. The real problem is a total lack of self respect and respect for others from a minority of young people. Perhaps we should bring back National Service.
David Heather, London
It's a crazy idea. It could bring about a holiday culture where people abuse it. Programmes on the television show how bad the city centres are getting. Mindless acts of violence due to drink. All this new law will do is spread out the police further and put further pressure on hospitals who have to help the victims of the idiots!
As a doorman. I feel that 24 hour licensing is not the answer to binge drinking. Instead local councils should be given greater powers to vary licensing times according to venues. The police deserve extra money though, they have to deal with alcohol related violence night after night.
I don't think British people are responsible enough for 24 hour pubs. It won't spread out the consumption; revellers will just have extra time to drink more. I am a student and I see this all the time, the endless plight to get legless. Pubs should pay the cost of extra policing, but there are physically not enough officers to deal with it.
Philip Pike, Colchester
Perhaps the age limit for drinking should be increased to 21? Countries with a higher limit do not seem to have the trouble that we do.
The time for raising concerns and re-examining legislation is when it's going through Parliament. Why didn't the Police Chief speak up then? It's too late to moan about it now. If he can't work out how to pay for the policing then take a look at all the other countries with flexible licensing laws and learn from them. I have waited years and years to be treated like an adult in pubs - I loathe the moment when they ring that bell and order me to leave. These new laws can't get here soon enough. Roll on November!
Nick Clark, London, UK
If not the drinks industry, then who? Us, the taxpayers, the vast majority of whom do not want this change to the law. If this is to happen, there should be further changes to stop pubs pushing high alcohol-volume drinks on promotions, turn down the music (it's deliberately played loud so that people drink instead of talk), put in chairs and tables so that people can put their drinks down, and so on.
Edward, Cheltenham, UK
I love the fact there is an assumption this will lead to a binge drinking problem. The people that will always binge drink will still be on the floor by 11pm, so no change there and the rest can enjoy a relaxed pint because they are not racing a ridiculously early last order time. There are places in Scotland that you have always been able to drink all day and we have very little problem with binge drinkers and round the clock violence.
I gather that most pubs actually didn't want 24hr drinking brought in, so now they are also being told that they will have to pay for the extra policing required when it all goes wrong. This has been one big disaster from the start. It's time to scrap this whole silly idea and deal with the issue at its root. We have to look at the real reasons why binge drinking is so rife, it is now deemed to be the thing to do if your aged 16-25. Drinking promotions that glorify excessive consumption have to be stopped and the ever increasing strength of drinks and alco-pops needs to be looked at. The police need more powers to provide a clear deterrent to people who step over the line.
Paul, Coventry UK
Town centre pubs are massively increasing the cost of policing in the evenings and at weekends. Football clubs pay for policing at matches so the precedent is set. A drinks levy of say 10p per alcoholic drink should go a long way to covering the cost of this policing.
Andy, Clevedon, England
Binge drinking isn't new it's been going on for centuries its just more concentrated now in city centre areas with more theme pubs and clubs. The thing is everyone looks forward to the weekend because we work so hard here. Most European countries have shorter hours, longer breaks are more relaxed about things so you could say it is in our culture. I don't think levies will discourage excess drinking and banning people from areas who persistently get drunk how on earth is that going to be policed? Everyone needs to make an effort pubs/clubs especially.
Kevin , Coventry
If I remember correctly, 24 hour drinking was justified by the government as it will reduce the problems of people drinking quickly before closing time and getting very drunk and reduce the problem of everyone leaving clubs at the same time and arguing over taxi and chippy queues. If these arguments still add up, what do we need extra policing for?
John Whelan, Edinburgh
The introduction of 24hr drinking is a ridiculous idea. People will only spend what they have on them so they will drink slower. This means that the pubs will have to employ staff at unsociable hours, at extra cost. If they want to cut out everyone rushing drinks before 11pm then why not stop serving at 11pm and extend the 'drinking up time' to midnight?
Scott, Rochester. UK
The problem is not really the small pubs, but the super-pubs and especially nightclubs, which pack 1000s of people in an environment that breeds stress, anger and continual drinking. After all, if you can't sit down and chat, what else can you do but stand and drink! These venues should be made to pay for policing. If they packed less people in, then there wouldn't be as much alcohol-fuelled violence! Small pubs, which don't pack people in should not have to pay as they do not cause any trouble. The MPs should just go on a night out in Cardiff to see for themselves exactly what and where the problem is!
At first the change in legislation is bound to be chaotic. I expect to see behaviour get worse before the novelty wears off. It will take time, maybe even a generation, for the nation to change its attitude towards drinking (that drink-as-many-as-you-can-to-get-blotto-before-11 mindset). Ultimately this is the right step.
James Glen, Watford, Hertfordshire
Here in the south of France bars can choose when they close so many are closed well before midnight. I do not see any signs of excessive drinking, bad behaviour or fights caused by drink. But then this is France and the most of the time people are out to have a good time rather than trying to cause trouble. Altogether a more polite and sociable society.
Dave Cunningham, Toulon, France
I thought that one of the reasons for changing to flexible closing hours was that there would be LESS need for police intervention?
Jean Sinclair, Cambridge, UK
For us in rural areas it really isn't that bad an idea. It gives pubs/clubs that choice to stay open without fear for breaking the law/having lock-ins. This is despite the fact that we have two community police officers for around 20 miles in our area. It's simply because we don't have the population congregation in the streets around here as they do in urban areas. Unfortunately though, this law would apply to the entire country and for that reason alone, I don't think it will work.
Luke Wellington, Somerton, Somerset
I have now lived in German and Switzerland for several years where licensing laws are much more liberal than in England. Alcohol is also much more widely available than in England and guess what - no binge drinking. It's culture not alcohol causing the problem.
Tim Birch, Switzerland
As an ex-student from Manchester, I can say most of the trouble occurred because all the clubs kick out at the same time, causing havoc on the streets and on busses. Staggered closing times would greatly ease these problems and make for a much more pleasant journey home.
Jamie, Manchester, UK
If pubs opt to have the late license then yes they should make a contribution to pay for police support.
Catherine Dyke-Price, London, UK
I don't know if it will make them more responsible but they should certainly pay for policing of the problem they create. 24 hour licensing won't create a relaxed, non-bingeing continental attitude to drink - that attitude has to be there before you relax laws on drinking.
Cat McB, Edinburgh, UK
If pubs stop happy hours, two for ones, etc then maybe not. However if they continue to encourage cheap, fast drinking then they should. Police should be cutting down on crime - not dealing with drunks.
Susie, London, England
24-hour drinking is a very misleading term. Flexible opening hours are more appropriate - and the change is long overdue if we are to adopt a more civilised drinking culture in Britain. Unfortunately it is now so ingrained into our culture that you stay out until the pubs close, that it will take time before any improvement is seen. Hopefully, the government will look to the long-term and finally take this much-needed first step to beating the binge-drinking epidemic.
Although a tax on pubs superficially seems like a good idea it would just shift the problem around and lead to greater price discrepancies, greater bingeing and less onus on the actual louts. The perpetrators of 'alcohol fuelled crime' should be fined significant sums to actually pay for damage caused, policing and as a punishment. This would not then affect drinkers who never commit crime who can continue on their 24 hour drinking sessions unperturbed.
Andrew R, Bracknell, UK
24 hour drinking is going to be a nightmare. All arguments to the contrary are laughable. My favourite is that it will let drinkers have freedom of choice to stop drinking when they see fit. That assumes that the type of people who got out every Friday and Saturday night to drink 10 pints actually have some common sense. Wrong!
Much media coverage is given to debating the responsibility for the binge-drinking culture in this country, yet we rarely see anyone point the finger at the drinkers themselves. If you are old enough to drink, you are old enough to take responsibility for your own actions. Any required additional policing could be funded by fining the troublemakers, in the same way that speed cameras are funded by speeding fines. Let the problem pay for itself!
Robin, Wrexham, UK
It shouldn't be the pubs that pay the policing bill but the politicians, civil servants and industry lobbyists who thought up this daft scheme. Only the most out of touch person would seriously believe that staggered closing times or 24 hours opening will stop problems occurring. All that will happen is that people will start at the pubs that shut earliest and then gradually move towards those that stay open longest. The result: all the drunken troublemakers converging on the small number of long opening pubs - thus focusing the trouble makers into a more concentrated area and making the situation even more volatile.
Chris, Berkshire, UK
I live on a street with 6 bars on it and it's already bedlam at closing time. I think making bar owners responsible for the cost of their rowdy punters in the only place that counts - their pocket - will put a natural curb on the late license applications. I'm certainly hoping so!
Michelle, Camden Town, London
Surely this is like making newsagents responsible for smoking-related illnesses. People will drink because of social or life pressures, regardless of when and where they buy their alcohol. We can't make businesses (often small) responsible for individual judgement (or lack of it). We should listen to Sir John Stevens and his officers, as they would appear to be the experts on dealing with the effects of binge drinking. A sensible approach please, not the extreme lobby who are quick to protest at everything.
Most defiantly!! It is obvious that the drinks industry has exerted great pressure on the government to get this ant-social law adopted (believe me, living opposite a pub I know what I am talking about). They are the ones set to make a fortune from 24 hour drinking so let them foot the bill. We don't have enough police for genuine needs let alone to cope with even more drunken louts. I don't drink alcohol and can't go into pubs which allow smoking so why on earth should my taxes go to provide more profit to the drinks industry?
C. Davies, Minehead, England
The restrictive nature of current licensing is the cause of binge drinking and I welcome the introduction of 24 hour licensing. I'm not so keen on pubs contributing to extra policing since ultimately, the consumer will foot the bill. A better idea I think would be to make pub owners take more responsibility for stopping people getting blind drunk, and hammer those who repeatedly fail in their responsibility with severe fines/loss of license or even just making the venue close for a week might just be enough.
Yes, pubs and clubs should contribute towards the cost of policing their clientele. They are not supposed to serve intoxicated people, but it's obvious that many are doing so judging by the state of people falling out of their establishments! Until licensees are prepared to strictly enforce the rule concerning serving drunks then they are exacerbating the problem and should definitely pay towards alleviating the problem - and should also lose their licences if it is proved they are serving people who have already had too much to drink.
Jane Black, UK
Of course they should. They will be making an obscene amount of money out of this otherwise they wouldn't open! It is only common sense that they should pay some of the cost.
Kevin Bowker, Middlesbrough
Those pubs and bars which attract the sort of people who ruin it for everyone else should definitely contribute. Please do not charge my beloved real ale pubs! 'Lager louts' and 'binge-drinkers' aren't welcome in these sociable locals, we go there to appreciate a decent drink and the company.
Sarah, Birmingham, UK
It will just be a cost of doing business which they will pass on to their customers. Why not force the industry CEOs to clean up the vomit from our pavements instead? They disgust me, growing rich off others' misery.
Marc Brett, Teddington
Yes as long as the government starts cracking down on the trouble makers. It is quite normal for someone to be arrested for drunken behaviour and after a night in a nice warm cell they are sent on their way without even a slap on the wrist. Is there much point in putting extra bobbies out there if the people they are there to catch are allowed to continue committing crime? Large fines or banning from having alcohol for a year would be a good deterrent for this kind of behaviour but I doubt it will happen. Pubs will have to pay for the extra police and the cost will be passed on to the innocent punter who just wants a drink and a laugh before going safely home. Why should we end up paying for someone else's selfishness.
Simon, Oxford, England
I think it is good idea for pubs to contribute to the policing. If pubs are kept open longer they will make more money which will allow them to give some of that extra cash to help out. I would tackle under age drinking before this though; the town where I live in is rife with it. That is where most of the trouble (in my experience) stems from.
Ian Mc, NW, England
I think they should, however the charges are likely to be felt by the public, as usual. I would also favour a ban on deals like 'buy one get one free', which seems to me to be a recipe for trouble. The police have enough to do on an evening than try to stop adults fighting, collapsing and being abusive.
This government always put themselves in a win/win situation. If this levy goes ahead they will get money to put the police on the streets, extra beer and wine duty, more taxation from the pubs' profits, tax from all the employees working the extra hours. Where is all this money (and the rest) going? We don't see any improvements to our basic social services. Does this strike anyone else as odd?
This is yet another knee-jerk response to the situation from a Government that cannot organise anything. If the police arrested those people who are causing trouble and then the magistrates dealt with them harshly, the problem would diminish quite rapidly. My idea would be for the punishments meted out to increase sharply for every repeat offence within a given period for example 1st offence - 24 hours in prison; 2nd offence - 1 week in prison; 3rd offence - 1 month in prison and 4th - 1 year. The point is, if this doesn't stop people behaving irresponsibly, then nothing will.
Richard, Staines, UK
Notwithstanding any introduction of 24-hour drinking, the bearing of policing costs by the drinks industry is long overdue, borne by experience up and down the country, and no less significantly the financial returns of 'the drinks industry'.
Having lived in Antwerp for 2 years I have to say that 24-hour opening does work. However, to introduce it in the UK will take time to change the attitudes towards the drink as much as possible in 4/5 hours. With regard to the costs, let us be honest, you only have to look at the profits of the drink manufacture's big pub chains to see that they can afford it. However to hit the landlord is a little harsh. You never know maybe people over 30 can go back into towns again with out the fear of getting caught in the middle of a fight !
Scott Reeves, Sweden
The police are paid for through taxes on the drinks sold so why should the drinks industry pay extra? I can't see that there will be a need for extra policing as drinkers will be trickling out of the pubs and bars rather than the current situation of a huge flood of drunks. This will lead to a lot fewer people hanging around waiting for taxies and as a result should reduce the potential for fights. Drinkers will also not be trying to cram a huge amount of alcohol consumption in to a couple of hours, further reducing potential for violence. The police asked for this and are now going against it, which leads me in to thinking that they are just moaning for moanings sake.
Lee, Birmingham, UK
No! The pub is a fundamental part of British culture, which surely is one of the main things that we already pay our taxes to protect. Increased sales will bolster this tax pot anyway, and to me this is an issue of taxes levied not reaching the areas where they are needed. Even though I am not a regular pub user, I feel that places for communities to gather should be aided not further hindered in a country where community spirit is eroding.
David Clark, London
I think 24-hour drinking licenses are a great idea. I do not drink a lot, and have never been drunk and disorderly but would appreciate the opportunity to go and have a social drink with friends, say after leaving the cinema late at night. Yes this will require an increase in policing, but then hasn't Mr Blair promised more police anyway? Obviously there will be problems with the introduction of 24 hour drinking, as nothing will ever change smoothly, but in time this can only benefit responsible people.
Chris Marcus, Chelmsford
What happened to individual responsibility? The pubs don't force their customers to drink excessively - it should be the trouble-makers that pay, rather than landlords.
Rob, Hardwick, UK
There will be teething problems in the transition but long term it will reduce binge drinking as there will not be the feeling you must get loads down your neck before closing time!
Pete Hobbs, Birmingham, UK
Twenty four hour drinking hours is disgusting. Can't wait to vote Tony (not in the real world) Blair off in the next election.
The idea of 24 hour drinking in the UK reflecting the leisurely drinking habits of the continent will be lost on the newly liberated British public. After decades of binge drinking as the norm and pubs feeding that culture through promotions and campaigns it would be wishful thinking to believe we'll be sipping our drinks like our continental cousins overnight. In the meantime pubs should not only pay for the disturbance caused by their patrons, but they should be forced to encourage a more moderate approach to alcohol. Perhaps that's as unlikely as McDonalds selling salads?!
James Allen, London
British drinking culture has developed as a result of early closing times in pubs and night clubs high prices for drink. This has resulted in a "down as much as you can before 11pm" attitude. Opening longer hours should help develop a European mentality to drinking.
Seems like another attempt by the government to give the people what it wants them to have, that includes casinos, and thereby directing them away from the more important issues facing the country.
Paul, Lincs, UK
Pubs and drinks companies should not be made to pay towards police. Twenty four hour licensing will reduce the trouble and binge drinking you see today. Here in Belgium bars and cafe's are open 24 hours and there is very little trouble. I think it's the attitude to drinking that is the difference, here it's a relaxed social affair in the UK with the old licensing laws the emphasis was on drinking quickly before the bar closed. It will take some years for this attitude to change. Maybe it would be a better idea to make them pay for school alcohol education programs.
Does this mean we can now buy alcohol 24 hrs a day from the local supermarket instead of them putting up barriers at 11pm?
can't get any thing right.
Brian, Caterham England
It will cause less trouble as people wont be sprawling out onto the streets at closing time. People can leave when they like. I cannot see this being a problem.
Shane Phillips, Southampton, Hampshire
This surely does beggar belief - the government talk about "levies" to penalise those clubs and pubs that produce drunken louts and violent alcohol induced hooligans onto our streets anytime of the day or night. They have even considered getting local councils to pay for extra policing (which of course will have to be paid for by an increase in the council tax). But in reality, who pays to repair your car after you find it damaged in the morning? Who pays to restore your garden and clear up the vomit? Who pays to mourn your loved one following some unprovoked drunken attack? Can we send the government the bill for something that is so blindingly stupid? Of course you can't, but don't forget, Tony is doing this so you can have a pleasant glass of Chablis after an evening at the theatre!! Have any of these advocates of 24 hour licensing been to a town or city on weekend evening?
Colin, Midlands, UK
I lived in Copenhagen for 7 years where you could buy alcohol 24 hours a day and there was rarely any trouble with drunkenness. I think there were two reasons for this: because there was no rush to drink as much as possible in a short period of time people were more relaxed and the second was you didn't have large groups of people taking to the streets at any one time , there was a constant flow 24 hours a day . I think there might be a little trouble to start with here in the UK but when people realise they can go for a drink whenever they want then street violence will drop considerably .As for the pubs should pay for policing I think its just another way of the police to gain more revenue.
Grant Hayward, Southend UK
They should extend the drinking hours. Just because you extend them doesn't mean people suddenly have more to spend. People will have longer to spend the same amount of money and it may reduce the problems. Longer time to drinks means more time to enjoy being out, and less binge drinking!
Laura, Manchester, UK
Yes of course they should contribute. When a drunk & disorderly individual ties up two or more police for an hour or more, I hardly see a £40 fine as anything close to a slap on the wrist, not much more than that "round of drinks" one forgot they had bought and certainly no deterrent. It surely costs more than this to provide two police for two hours better used elsewhere.
I think that the pubs should pay for policing, football teams have to pay towards policing when there is a football match on, is it any different. Perhaps it will also make landlords more responsible about the amount of alcohol the serve people.
The police are paid enough as it is! If the pubs are paying a lot to stay open late and although pubs will make lots of money, they will still feel obliged to pass the cost onto the consumer. I can imagine the cost of certain alcoholic drinks becoming more expensive after 11pm.
Chris Mailen, Billingham, Teesside
Trouble areas should not be even tolerated. As in Dutch towns their visibility should be diminished and fully sound proved.
N. Girdham, Barton. Lincs
On Breakfast News this morning, some were advocating the drinks firms and pubs (and ultimately the consumers) footing the bill for the extra costs of policing. However as a law abiding 31 yr old, who has been going out drinking at the weekend since 18, and who has never been in a brawl or been arrested, resent the fact that I should be penalised for the behaviour of a small minority. And let's face it, despite what the Daily Mail might tell us, a tiny minority it is. If anything they are the ones that should be paying, in the form of more hefty fines, taken directly from their incomes.
Matt Harris, London
So if the pubs are paying for late night policing, is that all the police will be doing at that time of the night? Policing drinking areas?
Martin, West Yorks
This is another example of an idea which simply cannot be implemented. Are the pubs to be fined commensurately with the damage caused on the streets by its drinkers? How will that be monitored? What if those drinkers have been on a pub crawl - should the first pub share the responsibility for any damage caused on should that all be borne by the last establishment? The best and only way to sort this out is to raise significantly the duty on alcohol. The extra money raised should be ring fenced for use by the police which itself should use those funds only to deal with anti social behaviour.
Ketan B Shah, Harrow, England
If the door staff and bar staff did their jobs properly and refused to admit or serve underage or obviously drunk customers then we would not need extra police in the town centres.