POLICE resources are being wasted dealing with alcohol-fuelled crime in Chester since the 24-hour drinking laws were introduced, it has been claimed.
Cheshire police and crime commissioner John Dwyer and UKIP MEP Paul Nuttall said the continental-style licences had contributed to increases in alcohol-related disorder and violence.
But Chester MP Stephen Mosley disagreed and said the changes had boosted the city’s night-time economy.
He said: “Chester has a vibrant and enjoyable night-time economy which provides much needed jobs for hundreds of local people and I would be really concerned at suggestions that we should try to put these businesses out of business.”
Mr Dwyer said millions of pounds was spent dealing with drink-related crime each year and said the changes – introduce in 2005 – had backfired.
He said: “This was intended to promote a continental culture and prevent the traditional last orders flashpoints, but in some areas it has bred competition, causing them to open later and later. It is not uncommon for them to still be trading after 5am.”
Mr Dwyer said ‘preloading’ – drinking alcohol at home before going out – and bars that offer drinks promotions also contributed to drunkenness which causes disorder and violence in towns and cities.
Mr Nuttall, deputy UKIP leader, agreed and said the changes had proved a disaster and were never going to work in Britain.
He said: “As I predicted it has led to an increase in drunken violence on our streets and placed an enormous strain on police forces.”
Mr Nuttall said the rules had harmed the traditional pub trade as youngsters get drunk at home on cheap supermarket alcohol and then go out about midnight to premises which stay open until 6am.
He added: “As well as totally inebriated youths causing noise and nuisance on our streets there are also incidents of violence, sometimes with fatal results.
“The government must face the problems caused by round-the-clock drinking laws as a matter of urgency.”
But Mr Mosley believes the 24-hour drinking laws should remain and said the government had done a lot of work to tackle alcohol-related problems.
He said: “In Chester we also have fantastic local police and marvellous groups like the street pastors and Chester Pubwatch who work tirelessly to reduce anti-social behaviour and ensure Chester remains a great place to enjoy an evening.”