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2005: Pubs open 24 hours

Round-the-clock drinking in England and Wales is now a reality after new licensing laws came in force at midnight.

More than 1,000 pubs, clubs and supermarkets have been granted 24-hour licences to sell alcohol, according to government figures.

Around 40% of premises applied to vary their licences, either extending their opening by an hour or two or offering late food and entertainment.

It has led to fears disorder will put more pressure on police and hospitals.

But Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell told BBC Newsnight the new law was necessary "to make it possible for the vast majority of people who drink but who never get into trouble to have more freedom as to when they drink".

In Context
The first weekend after the change in licensing laws did not bring the predicted wave of alcohol-fuelled violence and debauchery.

A police leader warned that 24-hour drinking would lead to a reduction in the number of police recruits, because they would not want to spend all their time dealing with binge drinkers.

There were also warnings that the lack of late-night public transport and other facilities would lead to an increase in disorder.

But police said the full implications would not be clear for at least six months.

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