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Has the 24-hour drinking culture 'failed'?

09:39 UK time, Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The benefits of 24-hour drinking have failed to materialise and tougher action is needed to tackle alcohol-related problems, the Home Office says. Do you agree?

Home Secretary Theresa May has unveiled plans to overhaul licensing laws to tackle binge-drinking hotspots ahead of a key speech on anti-social behaviour.

The measures aim to tackle violent disorder and to give communities influence on licensing decisions in England and Wales.

How will these measures affect you? What has been your experience of 24-hour drinking? Do you live or work in an area that has been affected by 24-hour drinking?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.


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  • Comment number 1.

    "The benefits of 24-hour drinking have failed to materialise and tougher action is needed to tackle alcohol-related problems, the Home Office says."
    And what, precisely, ARE the 'benefits' of 24-hour drinking? In my opinion, it has been an unmitigated disaster and has led to a multitude of problems; principally anti-social behaviour, including fighting, rowdiness, vomiting, urinating and more. Young people in Britain have been brainwashed into going to the pub to get as hammered as possible in a short space of time by consuming unhealthy quantities of spirts; look at the number of 'vodka' bars selling killer cocktails; it is both ridiculous and unsustainable. Something has to give.

  • Comment number 2.

    No - I think it has achieved its goal of enabling the population of the UK to be completely drunk 24 hours a day 7 days a week, without favour or prejudice - In fact maybe we could extend the current policy and allow everyone to get drunk while working - that way no one will notice the continuing depression and general abysmal state of our country!

  • Comment number 3.

    Has the 24-hour drinking culture 'failed'?

    Yes, but with the caveat that changing the drinking laws back to how they were won't neccesarily improve things.

    The busy times for police on Fridays and Saturdays are pretty much exactly as they were before 24 hour drinking, evidence that the general public never changed their drinking habits in the first place.

    Which suggest that removing 24 hour licensing may not have the positive effect on anti-social behaviour that people hope it will.

    It'd be much more effective to actually enforce the existing law against serving drunks, as they do so effectively in Austarlia, but you never really hear politicians in this country dicussing that option.

    Maybe because its an old law, they think it lacks the razzmatazz of launching a new policy....

  • Comment number 4.

    It was set up to fail, from the word go! All it has done is increase competition between pubs, causing them to take on extra staff to compete, which has driven up costs. In the meantime they've had to keep prices low, which has lead to pubs closing right, left & centre. Combine that with cheap booze in supermarkets and yet another British institution is being allowed to disappear.

  • Comment number 5.

    The strange thing about this experiment is that the French culture that it was supposed to emulate does not exist.

    Small privately run cafes close at about six in the evening. French people tend to drink in family groups over a meal and in moderation.

    In Britain on the other hand pubs are owned by huge monopolies with every disadvantage thrown in the way of the pub manager. The pubs have been turned into no-go zones for anyone over the age of 35, seating abolished, standing room only, deafening rock music to dull the senses and every encouragement for the drinkers to get drunk.

    Most of them have already tanked up on cheap vodka from the local supermarket, if not the females take the bottles in their handbags and order juice of one kind or another to mix it with.

    With the criminalisation of smoking in pubs and clubs we can see the continuing trend of pub and club closure.

    In time the only place people will be drinking will be at home or in gangs in some public area.

    The politicians will then see where one aspect of their patronising stupidity leads them and us.

  • Comment number 6.

    My experience of 24 hour drinking - oiks vandalising cars as they walk by at 2 in the morning when most people are asleep and aren't aware as to what's going on. Sensible closing hours means people going home were going home when many of us were still awake and alert so damage didn't occur.

  • Comment number 7.

    Appart from the traditional uses of 24 hour flexibility, for the likes of fishermen returning to their port at all hours, I don't really see the benefit of it elsewhere

    Those who are working don't need it, and those who aren't shouldn't be encouraged outwith 'normal' hours

    Drink is readily available elsewhere to take home, and much less expensive than the pubs anyway

  • Comment number 8.

    About time too. Cardiff on a Friday & Saturday night resembles Beirut, rather than a sophisticated, cultured European city. The bars that sell cheap alcohol should be made to pay for the extra Police that are needed, and the drunks should pay for any emergency treatment (ambulance/A&E etc) they require for being drunk.

  • Comment number 9.

    It is not the '24 hour' drinking culture we have a problem with, it's the drinking 'culture' per say.

    The way we drink, standing like cattle, stuffed into an over-crowded bar, encouraged to drink as much as possible in as short a period of time is the problem.

    Try to explain to today's youth that they should sit around a table, casually drinking a small measure whilst having a conversation and they would laugh in your face.

    As long as the objective is to get as drunk as possible, as quickly as possible, we will have a problem.

    Speaking to a police officer he told me the worst night of the week for trouble is Sunday. This is because the bars/clubs all have to shut at midnight, so the young get absolutly plastered by 11.45 and then they are all put out on the street together, and that is when the trouble starts.

    Lets start by looking at the venues for drinking. No more open plan, pile e'm in, establishments, no more cheap drinking hours or other incentives to drink more.

    Above all let the people who make the money pay. Raise the council tax on town centre establishments and use the money to pay for more police.

    If we try to promote a 'civilised' culture of public drinking it will not matter how long the venues are open.

  • Comment number 10.

    This plan need a few generations in order to work, not a few years. Anyone with half a brain could figure that out.

    Why does every law change have to yield immediate results??

  • Comment number 11.

    I believe it has failed and the health consequences will be huge for this country. We must have some moderation as the UK does not have the maturity to drink sensibly.

  • Comment number 12.

    The price of alcohol in pubs is a deterrent in itself.

    Honestly, there must be a time of the day when you can do without alcohol, unless you have a drink problem.

    Leavve it to local Councils to resolve in conjunction with local residents.

  • Comment number 13.

    And just what does the "benefits of 24 hour drinking mean"? What were the benefits exactly of being able to drink all day?

  • Comment number 14.

    What else is there to do, but to drink away the sorrows this country has bestowed upon its civilians?

    No wonder the youth are binge drinkers, our parents generation have left us with nothing but a lack of employment and a monumental debt we will have to pay for the rest of our lives.

  • Comment number 15.

    As always, when discussing this issue, the Government studiously ignores the elephant in the room. The problem here is not the licensing of pubs and bars. The licensed trade is already being regulated into the ground. The main cause of drunkenness and associated behaviours is not the opening hours of pubs - it is the price of alcohol in supermarkets.
    What is happening is that young people are buying cheap booze from Tesco and getting tanked-up before they go out of an evening. They then have a couple of drinks at the much more expensive prices of licensed premises and then spill out onto the streets.

  • Comment number 16.

    Nothing will work as this problem is deeply ingrained in the sick society that is Britain. I have just spent a number of weeks touring around parts of Europe where alcohol is readily and cheaply available throughout the day. In that time I saw no drunks, no anti-social behaviour, no violence and no groups of adolescents hanging around aimlessly; all I saw was families, couples, groups of friends and individuals chatting, socialising and behaving happily and sensibly (needless to say I avoided areas patronised by British tourists). Where did we go wrong?

  • Comment number 17.

    It's just proof, further proof really, that the brits can do 24 hour drinking but not culture.
    In the UK there as just too many chavs who can't exercise self control, ill-discipline or no discipline and pure selfishness.
    That's what the permissive society experiment has delivered for the country, a low-life, scumbag average of foul-mouthed, intemperate and insufferable louts.

  • Comment number 18.

    Will not make a jot of difference. The genie is out of the bottle and it will be impossible to return it.

    Besides the pubco's with their unlimited funds will, through their legal eagles ensure that local authorities and other interested parties cannot afford the long drawn out battles that the refusal of a licence will entail.

    Luckily in my area the local authority have tended only to give extended hours drinking licences to establishments within a small area of the town centre. Where they have allowed them in outer areas the majority have proved to be a waste of the pubco's time and the establishments are shut long before midnight.

    My local authority have also begun refusing late night licences for more "fast food" premises in the town centre. The police and other interestred parties are saying that the trouble tends to occur outside these premises rather than the drinking establishments.

  • Comment number 19.

    'What has been your experience of 24-hour drinking? Do you live or work in an area that has been affected by 24-hour drinking?' - BBC
    My experience of 24 hour drinking is that it is no problem at all. Where I live alcohol is available from virtually any retail outlet at any time and we never suffer from alcohol related violence, noise or anti-social behaviour. Virtually everybody I know drinks some alcohol virtually every day with no adverse effects on the rest of the population. All the bars in my locality stay open until they feel like closing and we never see drunks falling about vomiting in the street and fighting; everybody manages to go home quietly without causing disruption to everybody else.
    I live on a small Greek island in the Dodecanese. The problem is not 24 hour drinking, it is the British mentality towards alcohol that is the problem. How you tackle that is anybodies guess, I just wish Theresa May the best of luck.

  • Comment number 20.

    "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink."

    Continental Europe generally has longer opening hours so why haven't the French, Italians and Spanish become nations of staggering drunks like here?
    Likewise extending the opening hours here didn't force people to drink more.
    It's not like there wasn't problem prior to the relaxation.
    The issue over 24 hour opening is a red herring, another one dictated by Fleet Street.
    The real issue is why do so many people got so drunk so often. The answer is one neither Fleet Street nor a Tory Government would want to address. Could it be the long hours culture? Could it be a an ingrained cultural obsession with alcohol?

  • Comment number 21.

    It's failed with the matcho men, the alchoholics, the inconsiderate and looneys but more to the point, the authorities have failed miserably with prosecuting druggies that drive, a much greater problem than drink drivers ever were.

  • Comment number 22.

    In a word - yes. The idea that UK would end up similar to the continental "sensible" social drinking norm has failed and the small number of "drink until fallover" British (which they take around the world with them) carry on regardless.

    Loss leader supermarket drink sales must stop and pub opening hours controlled by Local Councils (with the requirements of the local residents being foremost).

    Pubs and clubs should be made to pay for the extra policing required if is shown that they are allowing drunken behaviour inside or in & around the area of their premises and any problems caused by anti-social drinking requiring medical care should be charged to the persons/establishments involved.

    The British binge drinking minority are a menace worldwide and, as they cannot be trusted to act sensibly, the Law must do it for them.

  • Comment number 23.

    If the intention was to turn town centres into no-go areas in the evening, greatly increase the incidence of alcohol-related crime, and raise the prevalence of alcohol-related health issues to epidemic levels, then the policy has been a roaring success.

  • Comment number 24.

    No. The 24-hour drinking culture has succeeded as everyone knows. You can now get drunk in public bars and clubs 24-hours per day - and people do. It ensures the emergency services and police are busy in the early hours of saturday and sunday and that ordinary folk are kept out of town centres. That, presumably, was the idea.

    Well, it was certainly the idea of the booze industry that lobbied for licensing hours to be abandoned.

    Whether it's been good for us all, including the binge drinkers and those who unfortunately find themselves on the victim end, is a different question.

  • Comment number 25.

    Regrettably this Cafe Society was never going to work. For some reason large sections of the populace seem to lack the self control and maturity that is required.

  • Comment number 26.

    Just one question reguarding the absurdity that is licencing laws,
    If it is illegal for a licenced premises to sell alcohol to someone who is drunk where are they all coming from, being dropped off by Martians?

    Having said that i don't know what to suggest my town center is just the same as any other on a weekend a no go area if you dont want to meet alot of unpleasant people who have had far too much to drink, alot of bars and clubs offering £1 a shot and £1.50 a bottle £1 pint on draught. I really cant see that imposing draconian measures will stop people drinking but i do feel more should be done to make the drug dealer,(licencee) more culpable.

  • Comment number 27.

    Aren't there more important things for the government to concentrate on?

  • Comment number 28.

    When I was young (and the world was new!) we could drink 24hrs if you wanted to, but you had to know where to find places, it was a bit more of an adventure than it is now.

    Now, you can just sit in one place and frazzle your liver to you hearts content, even get table service, food will come, if you ask, and then you can go home, safe in the knowledge that you've kept the economy going.

    With a couple of exceptions, I don't think it's any worse now than it used to be, really, you always had lads that wanted to fight, groups of women dressed up, everyone was drunk or worse.

    Not sure I can see what the fuss is all about, except for bringing it to everyones attention and saying that it's part of 'Labour's failed experiment'. Well, it was happening a long time before Labour came along and anything that Ms May is going to do will have no affect.

    Let it be, there are more urgent problems than liscensing hours.

  • Comment number 29.

    "Has the 24-hour drinking culture 'failed'?"
    Yes, patently so.
    But then it was a non-starter anyway.
    Don't get me wrong, - I wish it could have worked and that we could have an European style cafe-society. But it seems that, as a generalisation anyway, we don't have anything like the self-restraint regarding alcohol that our European cousins have. The only people I've seen openly drunk in Italy and France are out of control, self-indulgent British p*** artists (and possibly a few other Northern Euopeans). It's seen as a social no-no - very degrading and demeaning. Whereas in the UK, vomiting and urinating in the street, getting fighting mad and beating seven bells out of each other etc., and preferably being dragged off to the police station as a result, seem to be seen as badges of honour.
    Time to abandon the experiment IMO and try going in the other direction - high unit prices; draconian fines (for both drunks and the irresponsible idiots who sell the stuff to kids and to those already drunk).

  • Comment number 30.

    Only certain groups of people can afford to drink these days, young single and working types until they start going steady and saving for a flat and the terminal unemployed who never seem short of money or time.
    The rest of us are working all hours to keep a roof over our heads and a second roof over our wonderful MP's heads. In my town on the 70's we had around 20 Pubs which were packed out over the summer holidays. Now we are down to around 10 which are only half full at best, and then everyone is hanging around the pavements with their beers because of the smoking ban, which is ironic as all the non smokers never go out.

  • Comment number 31.

    Eh! Yes, of course it has! The real problem was never about licensing hours, but the availability of cheap booze from shops and supermarkets - and it still is.

    We need more control of availability in the high street and a return to proper Offies. The footpaths (I mean the cut through type not main road type) around where I live are often littered with empty cans and bottles (which are mostly broken), you can see groups of people huddled around drinking throughout the day and despite complaints from the local community to the council and police, nothing much changes. A lot of these groups are not youths either, they are allsorts and all ages.

    Of course, a lot of local shop keepers will tell you that without the sales of booze, they will not be able to operate at a profit (which is complete bull, as we live near a very busy station so they get a lot of commuter trade).

    The only way to re-exert control is to:
    1) Revoke most, if not all licences to local shops. This will cut down the availability of cheap booze and be easier to police in regards to selling to underage drinkers.
    2) Make Supermarkets put in place a separate area for booze and ciggies as they had in the past, that is cut off to the remainder of the store (i.e you need to go through an additional barrier).

    For a couple of generations it is already to late to do much, they have made their choice and the choice is boozed up. We now need to concentrate our efforts on young teenagers (under 16) to restrict availability and educate them to the dangers (preferably by showing them footage of the 16 - 25 yr olds falling over, throwing up, suffering in hospital, being arrested etc.). Once they see what idiots these people are making of themselves, they might think "do I want to be like that?" With the right encouragement, they will realise how stupid and disgusting they will look and reject that type of culture.

  • Comment number 32.

    24 hour drinking has definitely failed - I've only ever managed to do it for 19 hours before collapsing in a heap.

  • Comment number 33.

    Ahh it must be Wednesday, and therefore another way for the Home Office to waste more money changing laws that dont need changing.

    What needs to happen is those convicted of drink related offences need to be punished to the full extent of the law, no more of this fixed penalty nonsense, Judges etc need to be told to make an example of these people. And just to upset Ken Clarke, we have prisons for a very good reason!

    So yet again the majority are punished for the actions of the few - dont you just love democracy?

  • Comment number 34.

    This BluLabour coalition have very little they agree on, but they both claim to be "libertarian" and in favour of personal responsibility and choice. What is libertarian about abolishing a choice available to everyone because a very tiny minority may behave irresponsibly?
    If 24 hour opening is abolished, every true libertarian should be outraged at this imposition of state control.

  • Comment number 35.

    In the 1970`s I travelled the world and visited many countries whilst serving in the Andrew. Believe me, the UK is not alone in the binge drinking community.
    The media and certain MP`s really have a sad life and must be pitied not scorned.
    NOT everyone in the UK goes out to get `hammered` as has been mentioned. There a thousands if not millions of responsible adults, teenagers etc who do enjoy the social part of drinking. But of course that will not sell newspapers or put some wannabe MP on TV moaning about it.
    The UK does have a small minority who want to go out and get completely `hammered`, then, it is the unfortunate job of the Police, Paramedics and Hospitals who have to clean up the mess.
    Stronger sentencing and not a slap on the wrist may be the answer.......but the opening hours and cheap booze - i.e 3 for the price of one - needs to be knocked on the head.
    I enjoy a drink with my mates down the pub, but I don`t go out to get `hammered`.

    But as long as ther are idiots out there who think it is a great laugh to get `hammered` there will always be A & E`s who have to stich them back together again.

  • Comment number 36.

    Sadly, the Continental Cafe culture has not taken root in the UK as the legislators originally hoped.
    The UK middle classes may enjoy it but the working class have always preferred to get mindlessly drunk. The currrent younger generation don't believe they've had a good time unless they're hungover in the morning.
    The answer is to enforce public order legislation more strictly.
    Public drunkeness should never be condoned.

  • Comment number 37.

    The law has never had anything to do with 'twenty four hour drinking cultures'. People make cultures and those who drank for twenty four hours before laws changed, will do so when laws change again.

    Taking personal responsibility for what you do with your body is what has changed because politicians keep poking their fingers in business that has nothing to do with their hypocritical and not fit for purpose grey matter.

    When will our representatives deal with REAL issues?

  • Comment number 38.

    Again problem and cause are wrong. Although anti-social behaviour is related to alcohol it is unrelated to the fact it is possible to drink around the clock. Violent behaviour will not change if pubs and clubs closes at 1am. Even worse, it is a recipe for disaster when thousands of drunken people hit the street at the same time.

    Additionally, the few people that will be out after 3am are more in a party mood then a violent mood.

  • Comment number 39.

    24-hour drinking failed? I think we're rather good at it actually.

  • Comment number 40.

    Of course it has failed there are more alcoholics and alcohol dependent people now than ever before.

    There needs to be a culture change in this country because the counry's drinking is out of control.

    The NHS is being squeezed and accidents or illnesses caused through alcohol consumption is really not helping.

    My friend has Cystic Fibrosis and had a liver transplant last year and it makes me angry that alcoholics also need a liver but through their own behaviour.

    24 hour drinking has not helped at all.

  • Comment number 41.

    I am in a rural area and while I know of pubs with the 24hr bit, I don't know of one that regularly operates beyond the old 11pm closing time. As far as I understand it, it enables them to stay open a little bit longer occasionally if they wish without the old worries over occasional lock ins. Used in this way, I think it is a good idea.

    I do go into the city once in a while to participate in live accoustic music but the pubs I go to are in areas classed as residential and the music is stopped at 10:30pm and I don't believe the venues serve drinks beyond 11pm.

    Of course there may be problems in the city centre and the club area but in terms of effect and places I might go, I've not seen any problems.

  • Comment number 42.

    It was a policy of Labour, so of course it has failed. Unless you clean the streets, then it has resulted in a nice bit of overtime.

  • Comment number 43.

    6. At 10:05am on 28 Jul 2010, ruffled_feathers wrote:
    My experience of 24 hour drinking - oiks vandalising cars as they walk by at 2 in the morning when most people are asleep and aren't aware as to what's going on. Sensible closing hours means people going home were going home when many of us were still awake and alert so damage didn't occur
    You would appear to favour a return to the days when our 11pm closing time for bars made us a laughing stock. The vandalism you mention has nothing to do with 24 hour drinking. It existed long before that, and will continue to do so if the legislation is changed. The phrase is largely meaningless, as it simply allows the opportunity to apply for 24 hour licensing. In practice, how often is it actually used ?

  • Comment number 44.

    Of course 24 hour drinking has failed. Just as many people predicted. The idea defied common sense.

    I do not understand why the duty is not raised to a level which makes heavy drinking prohibitively expensive. This would have multiple benefits. Not only would it reduce the violence and disorder which is often the result of heavy drinking, the broken marriages, the numbers of uncared for children and the cost to the NHS of treating those who have destroyed their livers, and policing costs, other taxes could be reduced.

    Moderate drinkers would make a net gain, because the tax reduction would be more than the extra that they would have to pay for their alcohol. Indeed the if the principle that those who behave anti-socially should be heavily taxed or fined, were extended to other areas, such as dangerous driving, smoking, causing a nuisance by playing loud music in residential ares, etc. then it would be possible to make a dramatic reduction in other taxes. For example, the threshold for income tax could be raised above average income or the rate of VAT halved.

    Any extra smuggling that high taxes induced, could be stopped by having such high penalties for those caught, that the losses in revenue due to those who were not caught, were covered by the fines paid by those who were caught.

  • Comment number 45.

    The mere fact that we licensed some establishments to operate whatever hours they wish isn't a problem. The problem is the 'drinking culture' of certain sections of British society.

    Changing licensing hours won't help much in my opinion. Those who abuse alcohol will continue to do so, albeit during restricted pub hours, or at clubs (which have always had longer licenses anyway), or at parties or at home.

    The problem is much deeper than that (although I admit I don't know what the solution is).

  • Comment number 46.

    10. At 10:09am on 28 Jul 2010, mrX wrote:

    This plan need a few generations in order to work, not a few years. Anyone with half a brain could figure that out.

    Why does every law change have to yield immediate results??


    That is true but how are the generations going to learn from a bunch of binge drinkers?

    I agree you have to learn to use alcohol, but that has not happened in this country for at least the last one hundred years, even with stingent licencing laws.

    Sadly politicians sell a law charge on an immediate result.

  • Comment number 47.

    4. At 10:01am on 28 Jul 2010, Glenn Willis wrote:

    In the meantime they've had to keep prices low, which has lead to pubs closing right, left & centre. Combine that with cheap booze in supermarkets and yet another British institution is being allowed to disappear.

    I sometimes wonder about this type of argument. I find pub beer expensive. I noticed the other day that if I bought small barrel of a locally brewed beer directly from the brewery at retail, it would work out at around £1.50 a pint. Put the same pint (presumably bought at a wholesale price) on sale in a local pub and it will be around £3.20 a pint.

  • Comment number 48.

    8: Clearly you haven't been to Beirut, and perhaps you need to chill out a bit. I've never seen any trouble in Cardiff and have been going there most weekends for 15 years.

    24 hour drinking hasn't been taken up. I don't know of any pub/bar that opens 24 hours. All it allows is some flexibility as to when they open. It has allowed people to leave when they've had enough and not get booted out all at the same time causing tension when trying to get a taxi (which is a nightmare at the best of times)

    Removing 24 hour drinking will once again cause everyone to rush their drinks at 10pm, leave at 11pm at the same time and the best part of a thousand or more people trying to get less than a dozen taxis. Not great.

  • Comment number 49.

    The British society has something seriously wrong that people would prefer to be out of the minds from friday to sunday.

    Could it be we are the most overworked and overtaxed nation in Europe?.

  • Comment number 50.

    'Has the 24-hour drinking 'legislation' failed'? would be a more appropriate HYS question?

    Town centre/high street 'late' clubs in the UK have been a problem for at least a decade as they focus on 'emulating the 'holiday' model' found in certain popular holiday destinations in Europe that teenagers visit - long before a change in the licensing laws by Blair?

    Perhaps Theresa May has missed that point? However, she is absolutely right in reviewing current legislation.

    Plus make all parents and children aware that reproduction of a 'holiday model' in UK town centres is not beneficial to anyone and these clubs and their cynical business model has to pay for police and clean up?

    Furthermore, I don't smoke, but the smoking ban has to be reviewed too? It's concerning that smokers drink more on a night out in a subconscious response to their nicotine withdrawal? Will hopefully not be too attacked by anti-smoking league?

  • Comment number 51.

    About time too. Cardiff on a Friday & Saturday night resembles Beirut,


    No, Cardiff on a Friday and Saturday night resembles CARDIFF.

    Stop making silly comparisons.

  • Comment number 52.

    If you want a coffee or something to eat you are not made welcome in many places. Expect food after 2.00 and you might as well have antennae on your head. Not that you would want to eat in a typical Wetherspoon establishment - feet sticking to beer soaked carpet tends to put you off. Until we can change the culture in the UK that having a good time means lots of alcohol then 24 hr opening is going to be a problem.

  • Comment number 53.

    I don't understand what benefits a 24-drinking culture was expected to bring to Britain? We were already viewed by the world as 'lager louts' with a binge-drinking culture well before 24hr-licencing came in to place. If its failed, what exactly was it meant to achieve anyway? Apart from the government cashing in on the extra tax from extra alcohol sold I don't get what it was all about..?

  • Comment number 54.

    I feel the whole approach to 24hr drinking in the UK has been wrong so it is unfair to say it hasn’t been a success. The planning/licensing regulations are at fault, a case in point is Bristol Harbourside, rather than a mix of small bars and restaurants you have several huge venues owned exclusively by the massive chains. They all target and compete for the classic city center 18-30 crowd which means that in the current economic climate you have ended up with an ocean of cheap alcohol in order to attract custom. Why not break these large units down into smaller cafes and bars that ordinary local traders can rent and will ultimately appeal to a wider cross section of people. In Europe it is the mix of venue and customer that encourages a healthy attitude to alcohol.

  • Comment number 55.

    If it had succeeded, what should we be looking for?
    This was one more avenue of increased cash supply for that disgusting bunch known as the Labour party, so they could waste more tax on their labour voting 'machine'.

  • Comment number 56.

    Does anyone know what the benefits were supposed to be?
    I suppose some people might get more work hours at bars that stay open for long hours.
    The booze distributors and breweries might make more money.
    Staggering the hours should have helped the fighting problem but when they've been drinking for about 8hrs their judgment is impaired.
    However, there's one thing to remember. People wanting to get drunk will get drunk no matter what time it is. Drunks will be drunks and it appears to be the fashion among young adults to get very drunk with your friends as often as possible.
    I feel that a prolonged campaign against the evils of too much booze will help to some extent.

  • Comment number 57.

    Yet another failed dictat from those who thought that they knew best.

    Unfortunately the only thing that is likely to reduce our intake of alcohol would be pricing it out of most people's reach. Unfair because it would hit the low paid harder.

    We keep being told that Supermarkets will not be allowed to sell low priced loss leaders inducing the customer to drink more than they normally would have. When is this actually going to come into effect?

    It is just too cheap and easy to get drunk these days and with many thousands of young people not working they turn to alcohol as something to pass the time.

    Licensing regulations seems to me just a very small hammer with which to hit a very large nail.

  • Comment number 58.

    Everyone in government, seems to blame the pubs and clubs for "binge drinking" and drunkeness, and alcohol related violence, when we intelligent people know that it is the abundance of cheap alcohol in ASDA, Morissons, Tesco etc (other supermarkets are available) that is the real cause..lets face it, with the smoking ban, high rents, high UBR, high prices in pubs, they are closing down at a rate of 36 per when thereare no more pubs to go to, who will Theresa May blame.
    When I was running pubs, a few years ago, it would have been cheaper for me to buy 100 litres of lager, in 400ml cans, from my local supermarket, at RETAIL price, where the supermarket make about 20% profit, pour them into the keg re attach the sankey connection and "gas up the lager again" than pay for it WHOLESALE from the if it costs more to buy it wholesale than retail, do you wonder why people get pi55ed at home then go out for a fight outside a pub or club, where the pub or club, who are struggling to make ends meet, get blamed for the "alcohol problem"..Blame the governmental policy for allowing SUPERMARKETS to sell BEER cheaper than WATER !!!

  • Comment number 59.

    Yes, of course it has. It was always doomed to failure because the licensing laws as they were were never the problem.

    It's a whole culture issue. Children in France are brought up drinking small amounts of diluted wine from a fairly early age and, as a consequence, alcohol never acquires the mystique it does here for young people.

    It's also noticeable that the volume of advertising of alcoholic drinks is much less in France and it certainly doesn't target young people the way it does here.

    Control how these products are advertised, ban below cost selling and impose much stricter penalties on licensees who continue to sell drinks to people who are clearly drunk. Opening hours are really a side issue and have nothing to do with the problem.

  • Comment number 60.

    The way that I look at this is that we are trying to fall in line with other nations on the continent, however they are generations in front of us. And to really see the benefits of this policy we need to wait for a couple of generations before we start to criticise. We need to look long term rather than short term. I am 22, and going to be 23 this year and I know that since this policy was introduced my drinking while out has calmed down considerably as its more about making it to the end of the night and not to get completely drunk in 2-3 hours. Me and my friends are all statrting to adapt to this new way of drinking and i do believe that given time this policy of 24 hour drinking will start to work but given time.

  • Comment number 61.

    Drinking in pubs is a controlled environment..the landlord sees a drunk and refuses to serve him or her (unless the law has changed, it is illegal to supply a drunk person with alcohol)
    When a guy (or gal)buys 48 cans of high strength lager from the local supermarket...who controls the alcohol intake of that person, and stops them drinking more when they are already one, thats who, then that person goes outside, causes bother, and everyone blames the local pub, not the supermarket 5 miles away.......typical government knee think it`s broken now...wait till we`ve fixed introducing draconian rules on the pubs and clubs, whilst leaving the supermarkets alone (who donates most to the conservative party..a diminishing number of landlords, or Sainsbury`s ???

  • Comment number 62.

    24 hour drinking is something of a myth, how many places are actually open 24 hours a day?
    I've frankly not seen any increase in trouble on the streets since the law changed, in fact they have generally been quieter because instead of a massive outpouring of people at 11 you get a slower trickle as people go home at a more natural time.
    Same with clubs that used to be full till they closed at 2, but now people drift off between 2 and 3 or 4 when they close.

    The main change would be that more pubs will close at 11 again and clubs, which have been increasingly quiet (why get out of your seat to go and pay to get into a club if you aren't that bothered about dancing?), will get their business back.

  • Comment number 63.

    24. At 10:37am on 28 Jul 2010, doctor bob wrote:
    No. The 24-hour drinking culture has succeeded as everyone knows. You can now get drunk in public bars and clubs 24-hours per day - and people do.


    No they don't.

    If you got a pub, they generally do an extra hour until midnight, but thats it.

    I know a few clubs that tried to run events until 5 or 6 in the morning, but there aren't really any takers, the vast majority of punters still head home at around the old closing time at around 2am.

    I really believe that blaming 24 hour drinking is a red herring, I don't think it will make any difference to the level of anti-social behaviour whether they change the hours or not.

    Its the attitude of certain sections of the British public to alcohol, needing to get drunk to have a good time, which causes most of the problems.

  • Comment number 64.

    Well I'd imagine if you were to walk around a town or city on a Friday/Saturday night you would soon come to the conclusion it has failed.

    I'm not at all keen on nanny state interfering in our lives but certain aspects of the drinking culture does need addressing. Violence is one example. Also does the duty on alchohol more than pay for the cost to the NHS which some people claim? I don't know the answer to that question but we often hear in the media that they don't have enough hospital staff to deal with these problems. This leaves people waiting for hours to be treated including non booze related injuries and illnesses.

    You can see from my username I don't like Labour one bit but this 24 hour drinking idea was in principle quite a good one. It just didn't quite work out which is unfortunate. Lets face it this isn't exactly a new problem and I think this might just be one of those problems you can't fix. I'm not suggesting we don't try to improve things but how? I haven't the foggiest idea....

  • Comment number 65.

    Poor pubs. As if they're not on the point of extinction already. 24 hour licence means pubs can choose their hours - it doesn't mean people are drinking for 24 hours! If (a big if)its true that one fifth of drunk related crimes take place near a pub/club, then that means four fifths don't. The problem is obviously cheap alcohol in supermarkets. And if in some pubs, the "European culture" has not taken off, then perhaps the answer is to serve customers at tables like they do on the continent. This will slow down the pace of drinking and staff can also see who is getting out of control and stop serving them. As for residents complaining, it just takes one to complain in our area and that's it. Pub has to stop people drinking outside and stop all music and even close early or close down. Every day we read that something is being banned or stopped in this country. It's truly alarming.What can we do about it?

  • Comment number 66.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 67.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 68.

    Never really understood the thought process which would lead them to 'succeed' so their 'failure' is hardly a surprise to me. It will be interesting to see if the new government is brave enough and tough enough to rein in the sale of alcohol from supermarkets as I am absolutely positive that those sales are more to blame than club and pub sales for the amount of drunkness and drink related diseases.
    In the old days people used to go out and get drunk now they get drunk at home then go out and stay drunk. Also most women would not get fall down drunk now with today's 'liberated, macho' women it is not an uncommon sight just more symptoms of society's ills for which I see no real answer.

  • Comment number 69.

    It is often said that Cameron and his public school chums are out of touch with real people. With this subject, it is not the case. On binge drinking and it's associated criminality, mindless vandalism, and urinating and vomitting in the street, the Bullingdon Club are THE experts.

  • Comment number 70.

    I don't actually think it has made the situation any worse. It has stopped drinkers downing lots of alcohol very quickly just before closing time, but hasn't actually reduced the amount of alcohol which is consumed. I remember when I was young most nightclubs closed at 2am, but now quite a few are open into the early hours, the only affect of which I have noticed is that son comes home much later than I used to.
    24 hour drinking isn't the problem, the main problem is the fact that a sizeable minority, if not the majority go out at the weekend with an intention of getting drunk, and unless they do so don't think they have had a good night. More needs to be done to educate these people, and as a society we should be less tolerant of any criminal acts undertaken by people who have drunk too much. The fact that they are drunk shouldn't be used as an excuse, as the person didn't have to get themselves drunk in the first place.

  • Comment number 71.

    Twenty four drinking is certainly failure were I live – no pub or club is open 24 hours a day. The relaxation in licensing hours might have encouraged pubs to stay open in the afternoon and maybe an hour later at night but that’s about the extent of it.

    People who think returning to the old pre nineties licensing hours will clear town centres of young drunks will be disappointed.

    The scenes of extreme drunkenness witnessed all over Britain every night have more to do with the young generation’s attitude towards drinking, the type of drink they imbibe and the willingness of the brewery chains to exploit them by irresponsibly promoting harmful levels of drinking.

    Restricting closing times will change nothing.

  • Comment number 72.

    24 Hour drinking culture? If by this you mean the ill thought out attempt of the last government to get us to emulate the European drinking culture, it was never going to work.

    One factor most have missed is the weather. In those countries where people sit and drink a small amount with a meal or drink at a table on a night out with friends, it is hotter than it is here and it gets dark later. In such heat people don’t feel the need to drink as much, the sun drains you anyway. Here in the UK we all pile indoors and drink as much as possible. It is dark and cold and such an environment make you more likely to drink heavily (this is all just my personal experience and I am sure it won’t be the same for everyone)

    The other issue is culture. We work the longest hours in Europe, mainly in jobs that people simply do not want to do. If you have worked in the service sector then you may know what I am on about. Then we reach the weekend and everyone goes out on the tiles, waking up Sunday and lamenting our various foolish escapades, as well as the massive hangover. This is mainstream British drinking culture. Is it healthy? Nope. Is it the goverment job to fix it? Nope. It is something that can only be addressed by encouraging personal responsibility. That is the root cause of many, many problems in our society.

  • Comment number 73.

    It was always doomed to fail. A typical move by a government completely out of touch with the realities of life and determined to impose dull uniformity of policy regardless of local, regional and cultural differences. Early signs are that the new coalition has better ideas, but let's wait to see what actually happens ....

  • Comment number 74.

    You really only need to walk around your local town centre on a Saturday night to see the disastrous consequences of Labour's mismanagement of the social behaviour of below-25s. Catastrophic. The previous government should be highly ashamed of themselves and forced to walk around the combat zones that are town centres every weekend.
    I don't ever recall such atrocious, despicable and offensive behaviour when I was socialising as a youngster, some 30 years ago.
    As an ex-serviceman I actually felt safer in Iraq than I do in my own home town nowadays (on a weekend night).
    This is UK 2010!!

  • Comment number 75.

    How long did they expect it to take to change the ingrained drinking culture of centuries?

    A ridiculous story, designed to get the Mail brigade ranting. Worked a treat too.

  • Comment number 76.

    Why should those of us who are responsible ALWAYS have to have our libeties impaired bacause of vthe idiotic minority?

    Why not round them up and fine them under existing laws.

  • Comment number 77.

    Well, wot I shay is this...
    'Ang on a minute; what was I sayin.

    O yes. All day drinkin. Shockin' idea, shockin',,, an' stuff.

    What I say, I said, What I shay is, The guvvement's gotta take responsiblty! Yesh, resposblty, er. reponsitibly, u know what I mean.

    You're my best mate you are; I love you.

  • Comment number 78.

    This has been a complete waste of time, hardly anywhere stays open much later than it did before so there is still the rush to get in to a pub that is open slightly later than the others. This still generates large crowds all moving around at the same time which leads to trouble.
    In Germany for example, pubs close any time from midnight to 6am and there is very little trouble as people tend to leave when they've had enough or are too tired to cause any bother. And as going home time tends to span several hours, there is no great surge of people onto the streets at any one time.
    We should have done this properly from the start and it would have worked, it works all over Europe so why not here?

  • Comment number 79.

    The "cafe culture" that this was supposed to encourage, simply doesn't exist. Yet.
    There IS a drinking culture here, but its the grubby opposite of the mature attitude to drinking you find on the continent. We have to change this first, which will take a generation or two, before we even start to think about relaxed licensing.

    You have to find out why binge drinking is popular, but don't legislate it, as that just makes it worse. Educate and encourage.
    Ask Tescos why they sell cans of lager for less than the price of bottled water. Get the remaining police out on the beat, controlling the low level crime they're paid to do. Promote the positive side of parents allowing kids to drink moderately at home.

  • Comment number 80.

    14. At 10:24am on 28 Jul 2010, danixd wrote:
    What else is there to do, but to drink away the sorrows this country has bestowed upon its civilians?

    No wonder the youth are binge drinkers, our parents generation have left us with nothing but a lack of employment and a monumental debt we will have to pay for the rest of our lives.

    A very good point. The baby boomer generation have a lot to answer for in the UK, yet they're going to continue to moan about the younger generations that they've thrown to the wolves in order to satisfy their own greed.

  • Comment number 81.

    The benefit was supposed to be that the public could have a drink when they liked, not when they are told to. This has obviously been achieved.

    The pubs that have all the trouble around my location are the ones that still close at 11.00 on Saturday creating problems in the street outside.

    The underlying problem here is that MPs are a million miles away from the real world, ensconced in their private bar in Westminster smoking cigars (they have special dispensation). Theresa May has no clue as to what is happening on the streets.

  • Comment number 82.

    I think that to expect people (or society) to change their drinking habits over the space of a few years is absolutely typical of short-termist politicians. The only reason the British get so heroically plastered is because there were restrictions on the licencing hours in the recent past. That is what fuelled the fashion of drinking lots in a short time. The only sensible way to tackle this culture is to give every drinking establishment the ability to stay open as long as there are customers, and gradually, over the next couple of generations, people will learn to drink in moderation, as there will be no pressure to drink up at closing time. That and legalise cannabis.

  • Comment number 83.

    #3. At 10:00am on 28 Jul 2010, Togodubnus wrote:
    Has the 24-hour drinking culture 'failed'?

    Yes, but with the caveat that changing the drinking laws back to how they were won't neccesarily improve things.

    The busy times for police on Fridays and Saturdays are pretty much exactly as they were before 24 hour drinking, evidence that the general public never changed their drinking habits in the first place.

    Which suggest that removing 24 hour licensing may not have the positive effect on anti-social behaviour that people hope it will.

    It'd be much more effective to actually enforce the existing law against serving drunks, as they do so effectively in Austarlia, but you never really hear politicians in this country dicussing that option.

    Maybe because its an old law, they think it lacks the razzmatazz of launching a new policy....


    I thoroughly agree.

    The 24 hour drinking culture has failed, because binge drinking was the order of the day beforehand anyway. It was supposed to spread peoples drinking habits over a longer period but it did not work - it just meant that binge drinking was spread out over a longer period.

    There have always been people, even going back to Victorian times, that will spend all their money in the pub, or get blotto on a Friday & Saturday night, and these people were generally locked up for the night in Police cells and let out the next day with a caution.

    I think it was the introduction of night clubs that opened when the Pubs closed and stayed open until about 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, that really started this binge drinking culture.

    When I was younger in the 1960's I used to go out at about 8.00 pm, have a lot fun during the evening and get the last bus home at midnight. A few nightclubs opened up in my area by the time my children were in their late teens (the 1990's) and the Town centre then became a no-go area to anyone else.

    Why do some people feel the need to go out for a drink so late in the evening, get paraletic and spew all over the pavements, and then try to find their way home in the early hours of the morning when there is no public transport about, and a Taxi costs the earth!

  • Comment number 84.

    I believe this is very much a cultural thing.

    Here in Spain much of the problem is related to young people from Northern Europe who are abroad and leave what inhibitions they have back home. Most Spaniards would never consider becoming 'drunk and incapable' in public. They would become a disgrace to their families and the laughing stock of every one else.

    Mike Barcelona.

  • Comment number 85.

    Like most of the laws introduced by Labour over 13 years, badly thought out and has not worked. There can't be too many people who suddenly decide that it would be a nice idea to go out for a drink at 2 a.m and those who are out are probably plastered anyway.

  • Comment number 86.

    24-hour bar opening is never a good idea. If someone needs a 'social'(?) drink that badly at 2am, they can invite their mates around for a beer and a movie.

    People in this country seem to view extreme public drunkenness as some sort of god-given right, and something that people with better self-control just have to put up with.

    This shouldn't be the case, and it wouldn't be if laws were in place that...
    1. ...fixed a minimum price for alcohol, and prohibited bars and grocery stores from using promotions that involve lowering prices below the fixed minimum.
    2. ...regulated alcohol sales so that drinkers didn't have access to the stuff at every corner shop in the land. For example, in most Canadian provinces, you can only buy alcohol from government shops, bars, and licensed restaurants. Nobody complains that much, despite the country's reputation for beer consumption.
    3. ...backed up bar staff who refused service to drunk patrons, and penalised the management of bars who are caught serving either drunk or underage patrons.
    4. ...provided greater capacity to ban 'problem drunks' from the bars they typically frequent, or perhaps from bars in any and all city centres.

  • Comment number 87.

    Relatively simple, stop all the corner shops selling alcahol, where most of the under age selling is done. Bring back the ''Off licenses'' and close all public bars/establisments at mid night. Keep private clubs open. The cost of all the emergency services will drop over night. If lax parents allow their children to drink, let them do it at home. They don't appear to mind their offspring vomiting in the streets and being picked up by police for ''having a bit of fun''.

  • Comment number 88.

    If by failed you mean has it curbed the excessive drinking of alcohol by a sizeable minority of citizens? then clearly the answer is a resounding YES. But what else would you expext?

    Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and is also, as we know, addictive.

    Extraordinary that we can severely regulate the sale of tobacco yet leave alcohol relatively untouched (no warning notices that this product may endanger health, for example).

  • Comment number 89.

    I don't believe the 24 hour drinking has either failed or succeeded.

    Most "normal" pubs still have their last orders at the usual time and are shut by 11.30ish. In the main it is only the big pubs and clubs in city centres which I believe have used the late licenses... and lets face it, the people going to those kinds of places will probably be getting drunk regardless of the time the establishment stops serving!

    I do think our old laws were outdated, after all they were only implemented in the war to stop workers from over indulging in the evenings!
    I don't think we need 24 hour drinking, however "sensible" hours would be appreciated.
    If we want to stop binge drinking and antisocial behaviour however, then we will have to change the British culture and way of thinking, and that just isn't going to happen overnight. There is no quick fix.

    P.S. As for trying to emulate French culture wrt to drinking... you're not kidding me that there isn't antisocial behaviour in France or that there isn't drinking to excess. The difference is that the French seem to spend the whole day drinking small quantities!! Is that really any better??

  • Comment number 90.

    41. At 11:03am on 28 Jul 2010, you wrote:

    "Of course there may be problems in the city centre and the club area but in terms of effect and places I might go, I've not seen any problems.

    Come to think of it, I do remember once coming back late, maybe 2am, with my mother and her giving someone a lift on a route that took us through the centre. There were huge crowds of people on the road and my mother was scared trying to drive the car along the road at about 4mph. This was before 24hr drinking though.

  • Comment number 91.

    How can 24 hours drinking have benefits, to begin with? Perhaps we ought to stretch that on to seven-day-a-week!

  • Comment number 92.

    The introduction of '24 hr drinking' by the Nu-Labour Islington cafe society 'chattering classes' of the Tony Blair era was a major error of judgement made contrary to some pretty sound advice, I recall. Its repeal cannot come soon enough. Like other northern European countries (e.g. Norway, Sweden. the Netherlands, Russia and N. Germany) the UK is not culturally inclined to sensible, relatively sober consumption of alcohol, preferring instead to have a 'booze up' when the opportunity permits! The way ahead surely must be to allow local authorities, supported by the police, to exercise their powers of licensing and control in accordance with local circumstances and conditions. Every area and season is different, so let there also be a measure of flexibility.

  • Comment number 93.

    a few of the downsides of 24/7 drinking could have been avoided from the off:

    Public urination and vomiting - I've not seen one extra public toilet been made available since the licensing change. the few that were already present get locked up at 6pm anyway, so what choice do people have?

    Drunken violence - if the police actually treated this as a priority, it wouldn't be a problem. the issue is that many police are far more inclined to stop and reprimand two people walking in the road rather than deal with the 20-man brawl 100 yards further ahead. European cities put on regular special night bus services to ferry people home so you don't have to wait ages at a taxi rank with loads of paralytics spoiling for a scrap.

    the concept of a continental culture is a myth. go to big cities on the continent on a weekend and have a look for yourselves. they drink as much as we do, and get as drunk as we do. they do seem happier drunks though, probably because they know a public convenience is just around the corner, as is the night bus.

  • Comment number 94.

    It hasnt just failed miserably its created a total underclass of binge drinkers and violent out of controlled idiots.This was known from the beginning that if you dont control something it gets out of hand ,and this is what has happened in britain ,our police and other emergency services have become overwelmed with drunks and yobs all thanks to a stupid law that allows booze to flow without control.

  • Comment number 95.

    24 hour opening is not the problem, binge drinking is the problem, changing the licensing laws won't change binge drinking, it will just mean more people doing it at the same time leading to even bigger problems, which was the problem in the first place before the licensing laws were changed.

    This country has a long long history of being a drinking culture, the gin riots were in 1743.

  • Comment number 96.

    How can you control a society when alcohol is sold in every corner shop next to sweets that young children purchase in the same place that alcoholics frequent to buy their booze.Councils are to blame for giving every corner shop a booze licence.

  • Comment number 97.

    Completely failed. Useless law that has cuased more damage to social order in such a short period of time than in an entire lifetime. Placed pressures on our hospitals and ambulance services and caused deaths as well. Can someone name a single benefit? More sale of alcohol to increase revenue from sale & taxes on alcohol.

  • Comment number 98.

    Has the 24-hour drinking culture 'failed'?
    Yes, but please don't dignify it with the word 'culture'
    Anybody could see from the start that by allowing pubs to open all hours, a new way of drinking in a moderate and civilised fashion wasn't going to grow up overnight - if it ever would. Sadly, Britain's just not like that. I don't know how true it is but I had heard that the licensing hours restrictions were introduced in WWI because munitions workers were turning up for work a danger to themselves and everyone around them. It's pretty clear that human nature hasn't changed very much since then .
    The whole thing was a daft mistake by middle-class socialists who thought it would be jolly to be able to extend for a few hours those cosy chats about the Fabian Society with a glass or two more of red wine. As usual, Gresham's law took over and the idea has vanished in a mess of drunken squalor causing major hassle for the police, the NHS, and anyone who needs or wants to go into virtually any town centre in the evening.
    How far it's been due also to the ludicrous drop in alcohol prices, I don't know. Its probably a case of whether the chicken or the egg came first.

  • Comment number 99.

    A law that comepletely changed & transformed scoiety for the worst.

  • Comment number 100.

    It is not the 24 hour drinking culture that is the problem, but the drunken yob culture that ruins our country, and shows us up abroad to be illiterate, drunken scum. When abroad, my family enjoy the 24 hour culture and stay away from anyone British, as we just don't want to be associated with these loud mouth yobs.


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