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Last Updated: Friday, 24 November 2006, 12:55 GMT
Drink laws 'caused' violence rise
Police on patrol (generic)
Police resources now have to be spread over a longer period
New drinking laws introduced a year ago have led to an increase in violence in and around licensed premises in Kent and stretched police resources.

Kent Police figures show a 10% rise in offences and a 6% increase in the number of alcohol-related arrests since licensing laws were relaxed.

Asst Chief Con Adrian Leppard said it represented only about 3% of violent crime in the county.

But with pubs and clubs opening later police had to be on the streets longer.

"We have had to deal with incidents at 3am and 4am when previously we would have been dealing with them at 2am," he said.

Everyone is entitled to a night's sleep and there is a difference between noise at 11pm and 3am
Liam Cameron, Canterbury resident

"The reality is that we haven't got police officers doing other things because they are on the streets trying to make them safer for the public."

Very few licensed premises in Kent applied to stay open round the clock, although the new laws introduced on 24 November 2005 allowed 24-hour drinking.

South East Coast Ambulance Service agreed its workload was now spread from 11pm until 5am when the last clubs closed.

Head of licensing at Maidstone Borough Council, Keith Hatcher, said staggered closing times had made the town safer.

And taxi driver Peter Dolan said it made life easier.

"We can get the right customers in the car and the police have very much more control over what is going on," he said.

'Charge licensees'

Residents in Canterbury are calling for extra patrols by police and community support officers to control noise nuisance.

"Everyone is entitled to a night's sleep and there is a difference between noise at 11pm when you are going to bed yourself and being woken up at 3am," said Liam Cameron, chairman of St Mildred's Parish Residents' Association.

He said licensees should contribute towards the cost.

"It is unfair for that to come from the public purse if licensees want to open late at night," he said.




SEE ALSO
Violence down since 24-hour drink
16 Nov 06 |  Southern Counties

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