Street violence levels in Manchester remain unchanged despite the introduction of 24 hour licensing laws, according to research published this week.
Criminologists from the University of Cambridge researched crime statistics both before and after the introduction of the Licensing Act 2003 which staggered closing times beyond the traditional 11pm cut-off.
The study used data from Greater Manchester Police to compare recorded rates of violence with licensed trading hours in wards across the city from February 2004 to December 2007.
Dr David Humphreys, who conducted the research while at Cambridge’s Institute of Criminology, said: “Over the past decade, England and Wales have witnessed a series of political prevention initiatives for alcohol-related harm that have been implemented largely without evaluation or systematic appraisal.
“This has resulted in missed opportunities to generate evidence and a missed opportunity to learn, both of and from, any mistakes.”
The 2003 act was based on the belief that staggered closing times would help avoid part-goers emptying onto the streets at the same time of night.
When the act was introduced in 2005 many of the researchers were against the act, warning that it would have a negative affect and increase the number of street violence cases.
The researchers claimed the act was built on weak evidence that contradicted more credible theories about alcohol availability.
Their argument was that the act would increase alcohol-related violence as it would allow more people to continue drinking beyond the point of controlling their aggression.
“While the emphasis on change and improvement should be encouraged, the enthusiasm to act needs to be balanced with careful and systematic attempts to understand the implications and effectiveness of these interventions,” Dr Humphreys added.
Researchers also discovered that opening times had increased by a lower amount than anticipated – with average trading times growing by 30 to 45 minutes per premise on weekdays and by one hour and 20 minutes at weekends.
Image courtesy of Shannon K , with thanks