Speaking at last week’s National Pubwatch conference, Northamptonshire chief constable Adrian Lee said police were suffering from later opening hours, which is “creating an environment where people can drink inappropriately”.
Lee explained that limiting the hours that licensed premises can stay open could help slash “pre-loading” on cheap supermarket alcohol, with people being forced to come into town centres earlier in the evening.
“A night shift used to finish at 3am whereas now we are finishing at 6am and that is a very significant change in demand in terms of policing,” said Lee. “I think there is an aspect in which we are creating an environment where people can go out and think that they are going to get drunk, then accept that at the end of the night they are not going to get themselves home safely, but think that the police, street pastors and other people will be there to care for them and look after them.
“They are taking their personal responsibility and handing it over to licensees and other agencies, and we have simply got to change that culture.”
Northampton Borough Council is currently considering whether to consult on an EMRO and Lee insisted that the views of licensees are being taken into account.
“The vast majority of the responsible licensees want to have an earlier finishing time, but they do not trust each other if it is not enforced in some way,” Lee said.
“We are exploring that and we need to work very closely with the trade to see if there could be a position where an EMRO could actually be supported by most licensees, recognising that the business model of some premises is based around (the time) when all the other clubs close.
“The licensed trade is working longer hours for no more profit and the impact of pre-loading at home could be changed by starting the process whereby drinking will finish earlier, therefore people need to get out into towns earlier, and that will create a better environment for people to drink safely, and potentially would be good for licensees.”