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Last Updated: Friday, 21 January 2005, 01:35 GMT
Drinking plans 'need examining'
Bar taps
Ministers say they are tackling the symptoms of increased drinking
Britain's top policeman says plans for 24-hour drinking should be re-examined because of a binge drinking "epidemic".

Metropolitan police chief Sir John Stevens' call came as the government prepares to publish the amount councils can charge to process licenses.

Officials defended plans to overhaul drink laws saying the plans would give people more choice and empower police to crack down on troublesome pubs.

But Sir John said ministers should slow down on the plans.

He told the London Evening Standard: "There has been a major trend towards drunken, loutish behaviour: assaults on police are up 40%. It's not just London - it's nationwide.

Creaking?

"I feel now that we should just slow down a little on this proposal ... let's have another look at what all-hours drinking could mean."

A spokesman for the Department of Culture, which is in charge of the licensing changes, said the current drink law provisions were "creaking" and long overdue for an overhaul.

"Graduated closing times will help to reduce binge drinking and cut the anti-social behaviour which accompanies it."

But shadow home secretary David Davis said Sir John's opinions reflected the concerns of "thousands" of police officers, doctors and members of the public up and down the country.

"With many of our towns and cities already no-go areas on Friday and Saturday nights, pressing ahead with plans to allow pubs and clubs to open 24 hours a day would be irresponsible."

The government is due to announce the processing charges on Friday.


SEE ALSO
NHS fear over 24-hour drink plans
03 Jan 05 |  UK Politics
Tories opposing 24-hour drinking
12 Jan 05 |  UK Politics

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