Frankly, such is our enduring love affair with the demon booze that we're amazed that the introduction of 24-hour licensing back in 2005 didn't turn the UK into an island literally drowning in alcoholics.
But, despite this being miraculously avoided, it seems that the ensuing time hasn't resulted in good outcomes for the emergency services and officials are now calling for the 24-hour drinking law to be reassessed.
A new survey of almost 5,000 police officers, ambulance staff, NHS medics and firefighters by the Institute of Alcohol Studies has revealed that three-quarters of police officers and 50% of ambulance staff have been injured while handling drink-related violence, with over half of ambulance staff saying that drunken patients had sexually harassed or assaulted them.
68% of police officers blamed the 2005 introduction of 24-hour licensing for the problems, revealing that a huge 53% of their time was spent dealing with booze-related crime, while ambulance staff said 37% of their efforts went on sorting alcohol-related problems. A massive 96% of ambulance workers said they had been threatened or verbally abused by drunken people whilst working, leading to the description of a "culture of fear" amongst police and ambulance workers.
One police sergeant told the survey that the majority of police time was now spent “dealing with the fallout from the night time economy. No longer are we able to patrol residential areas to catch burglars etc.”
Katherine Brown, the director of the Institute of Alcohol Studies, stated: “Our report shows how alcohol takes up a disproportionate share of emergency service time, costing taxpayers billions of pounds each year. Many of these incidents are preventable, and alcohol therefore creates unnecessary problems for front line staff, increasing their workload and preventing them from dealing with other important issues.”
The results have led to a call to reintroduce the old licensing laws, which saw pubs shut at 11pm and clubs finish serving at 2-3am. Ironically, the original move was supposed to reduce alcohol-related crime, by bringing an end to the situations where all establishments turfed everyone out at the same time resulting in lots of drunk people all being put into the streets together. It was hoped that pubs and bars would stagger their finish times - but all that seems to have happened is that people have drunk more booze instead. Who'd have thought eh?