Crime down since launch of Licensing Act

Related tags Business improvement district Licensing act Assault Crime

THE FIRST hard indications that the Licensing Act is having a positive effect on crime are emerging, days away from the first anniversary of the new...

THE FIRST hard indications that the Licensing Act is having a positive effect on crime are emerging, days away from the first anniversary of the new regime.

Far from stoking up violence around pubs and city centres as critics claimed it would, later opening - and staggered closing times - appear to be helping to slash crime.

Figures published by the Metropolitan Police suggest that a string of crimes often associated

with drunkenness - including criminal damage, common assault and actual bodily harm - have fallen by up to 13 per cent across the capital over the first nine months of the Act.

The figures come after Birmingham revealed crime in its central Broad Street area, now a Business Improvement District (BID), had fallen by almost 60 per cent between July 2005 and March 2006. Incidences of crime fell from 2,512 in the same period 12 months previously, to 1,013.

Mike Olley, manager for the Broad Street Business Improvement District, said the Licensing Act had played a major part in the change in the area.

"There used to be a dark atmosphere around here late as everyone was out at the same time and it was difficult to get home," he said.

"Now that has all but evaporated. I'm convinced that this is due to bars and pubs closing at different times. Now people can get out of the bars and go straight home."

Commenting on the figures for London, Martin Rawlings, director of pub and leisure at the British Beer & Pub Association, said: "These figures were produced by the Metropolitan Police themselves, so they should give a good indication. If the figures stand up they're clearly good news. This is what the trade said all along."

But the Met sounded a note of caution, suggesting the drop in crime was the result of a number of factors. A spokeswoman said it was "still too early to say" what the full effects of the Act were.

"The night-time economy is extremely complex and it will take the full year before we can assess the impact," she said. "We welcome the support we have had from the trade but there is more that can be done."

According to Giles Thorley, chief executive of the 9,000-strong Punch Taverns, the drop in crime has been reflected across the country. He said: "As expected, extended hours have had little impact on overall trading, but by relieving the pressure at closing time they've helped to reduce the number of alcohol-related incidents."

The Met's figures show that reports of common assault in the capital fell 13.4 per cent between December 2005 and September 2006; criminal damage fell 10.4 per cent over the period; and ABH fell 4.9 per cent. Total crime was down 5.5 per cent.

Related topics Licensing law

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