A new Institute of Economic Affairs paper – just released – looks at the impact of the Licensing Act over the last 10 years.
According to the report, the relaxation of licensing laws ten years ago benefited consumers and did not result in the disastrous outcomes predicted at the time. Violent crime fell, alcohol consumption fell and rates of binge-drinking fell, particularly amongst young people. The number of drink-driving accidents also dropped significantly after the Act came into force. There was no rise in alcohol-related Accident & Emergency admissions or alcohol-related deaths.
Predictions that longer opening hours would bring about a rise in drink-fuelled crime and result in more alcohol-related health problems, placing a greater strain on Accident and Emergency departments, are said to have proved unfounded. Far from provoking a ’24-hour drinking culture’, the Licensing Act has removed some of the constraints on where and when people can have a drink, providing the public with greater choice.
Key Findings of the report:
- Alcohol consumption – Greater availability of alcohol has not coincided with a surge in demand, as the consumption of alcohol has fallen substantially since 2005.
- Binge-drinking – Every measure of excessive drinking has shown a decline. Since 2005, the number of 16 to 24 year olds binge drinking has fallen from 29 per cent to 18 per cent, and from 25 per cent to 19 per cent amongst 25 to 44 year olds. Being teetotal is now as common amongst 16 to 24 year olds as it is amongst pensioners.
- Violent crime – The rate of violent crime in England and Wales has fallen by 40 per cent since 2004/05. Incidents of crimes generally aggravated by alcohol have fallen steeply and the number of domestic violence incidents has also declined (by 28 per cent). Although some evidence suggests that violent crime has been dispersed later into the night, this accounts for just a small percentage of total crime and the overall decline has been considerably greater.
- Health outcomes – Little evidence exists to suggest that the Licensing Act brought about a rise in the number of alcohol-related admissions to Accident and Emergency departments. Numerous studies have shown that the Licensing Act had a positive or neutral effect.
Bet there will be some counter statistics within days!! Lets celebrate before the doubter’s publish their bitter response!