24 Hour Violence

A little while ago I was interviewed by the BBC, if you are interested you can read the article here (it also makes mention of The Policeman's Blog, a constantly enjoyable read). But surprisingly not the exceptional Real E Fun.
If you are new to this blog, then a good place to start would be the sidebar section on the right 'The Story So Far'.

Also on the BBC website is a little piece about fears from the Royal College of Physicians concerning the changes in the current licensing laws, something that I wrote about two posts back. The government would like you to be able to buy alcohol all day, rather than have you 'binge drink' to get yourself drunk before closing time.

When the change was first proposed I thought that it would be a good idea, but bitter experience has made me change my mind…

The government seems to think that without a time limit on drinking, people won't drink as much. Sorry to say it, but the reason a lot of people go out to drink (at least the ones I meet) is to get incapably drunk, then to continue arguments (or make up new ones) so that they can beat seven shades of Hell out of each other.

Current UK youth culture doesn't seem to allow for sensible drinking – not when it is seen as socially desirable to get 'legless' and when asked how a night out went people are proud to talk up how drunk they got. Without a sea-change in the attitude towards drinking, 24 hour licensing will be a disaster.

The ambulance service got as many calls in the first seven hours of the New Year as we would normally get between midnight and four pm. Was this purely New Year 'celebrations', or because of the vastly extended drinking hours? Why were a lot of these calls for people being assaulted, when New Year is supposed to be a time for celebration?

I haven't come across the obvious comparison that if the government think that increasing access to alcohol will reduce the health/crime costs of it's behaviour, then why don't they increase access to all drugs, for example heroin? Won't that lower the health/crime costs of all other forms of drug abuse?

The other argument is that by staggering 'closing times', then there won't be as many fights over kebabs and taxis. While true that this might reduce fighting between strangers, most of the people I see assaulted know their assailant – and have probably been sharing drinks all night.

Add in the people who think that the police won't be looking for drink drivers at 11am, and you have a huge potential for injury.

Most of our regular attenders are alcoholics, and we are finding younger and younger alcoholics every year. I'm starting seven shifts of 6pm – 2am, and experience tells me that most of these calls, and night-shift calls are for drinking.

With constrained drinking times, we know when there is a likelihood of trouble and our management plans resources accordingly, which is why there are (if manning permits) more ambulances on at weekend nights. I'd imagine it is the same in the police force as well. With the introduction of 24 hour drinking all that planning goes out of the window.

So what all this above post means is this…

…I've already broken my resolution to be kind to drunks.

19 thoughts on “24 Hour Violence”

  1. Whilst I take your point about the people who deliberately go out to get plastered, don't you think there are an awful lot of people who “speed drink” because of the licencing hours who would otherwise be more moderate?Cancergiggles

  2. Hi. I also found this blog via BBC News, and this is the first article of it that I read.I agree with the poster and the comments that if they introduce 24 hour drinking, that the culture for slowing down the pace of drinking is not in place. In fact, if they did, then England would descend into anarchy. No, not the kind proposed by the Sex-Pistols – I mean the kind that went on in Baghdad just after the fall of Saddam.

    Anyway, the current licencing laws make the streets at around 11:30 onwards an interesting place to be, as all the drunks are simultaneously turned out. If the pubs stay open longer, then all this good-natured merry-ness, could easily turn into a massive street-brawl.

    So to sum up, keep last orders at 11. Anyway, I'm off for a pint. Toodle…

  3. Hi there,I found your site from the BBC website. Its amazing how your blog became so famous! Do pay me a visit at


    Happy New Year!


  4. That is what I used to think, but then if the purpose of going out for a drink is to socialize then why the need to 'speed drink', the social occasion is the same with just a little bit of alcohol.

  5. It's a brawl at the best of times presently (which is why they think that staggering closing times is a good idea). But, because most people fight with the same people they have been sharing a pub with for the past 5 hours, I just think that 24 hour drinking will just lead to an extended period of violence.We'll see, I hope to be proved wrong…but somehow I doubt it.

  6. don't you think there are an awful lot of people who “speed drink” because of the licencing hoursI thought that that was what was happening; however, it is becoming clearer that a lot of people – women as well as men – are already pie-eyed before they get to the club or pub.

    It needs a culture change, and I cannot see any sign of that happening. I remember having a party at home, some years ago, during which one young man came to me to tell me indignantly and unapologetically that he had thrown up in the bathroom handbasin; he really seemed to expect me to blame myself (for what?) and to be motheringly pitying and comforting – I was not of course.

    Rachel in SE7

  7. What will happen is people will get very pissed for a while, the first few weeks of 24 hour drink availability. Then people will calm down a bit and realise 'hey we don't have to neck pints like we did before. We can take our time, drink at our own pace, without having to race to get more and more drinks in as last orders approach'.I currently live in a country where there is no time limit on drinking and it is a great pleasure to go out at night. There is hardly any violence or brawling in and around pubs and because there is not one time when drinkers are turfed out onto the streets together. The drunks that there are stagger home in small groups, causing no one any trouble.

    24 hour drinking is a very good idea, and I'm confident that you ambulance drivers will have less drink related calls once its in place. As for the point of planning more ambulances available for drinking times, this will have to change I suspect: because there will be no sudden surge of fighting / injuries in the late hours of the evening.

  8. Sorry, but this kind of thing can't be translated from one country to another. As our ambulance friend has pointed out today, it's the 'drinking to get drunk' culture in the UK which is the problem (what worries me even more is what does that mean about how sick our society is?)In France, for example, people also get drunk, but generally it's just as a side-effect of drinking together. When at university in the UK, I regularly saw students getting drunk BEFORE even going to a party. And the next day they'd say what a good time they must have had – because they couldn't remember anything…

  9. This debate always seems to focus on the alchohol abusers. Why should the rights of responsible citizens to consume alchohol in a licenced establishment at a time of their choosing be compromised by a disruptive minority?

  10. First of all, happy new year to you all, and of course, specially to Tom.I was born, raised and live in a country in which bar culture is slightly different than that of UK. In my country, bars can open 24 hours a day albeit roughly none of them follows that rule strictly. Man, woman and even children (at reasonable hours) can be seen in bars because they are places designed to socialice and not to just get pissed. At night, youngsters crowd the bars and some of them do exactly the same things that youngsters at UK. Maybe in short figures.

    When there is a football match involving UK supporters, they flight here and in the spite of having bars open 24 hours a day, get drunk quickly and hardly. So, if bars in UK turn to be open all day, I wouldn't expect any change on the way those blokes drink. Or they only drink like that abroad? I don't think so. Obviously, only a small amount of people act like this like only a small amount of people binge drink at UK, but again, why would they change their attitudes if bars open around the clock? Don't get my wrong, I'm not saying that UK people don't know how to drink. Some of them don't know, as it also happens here. But I think is mostly a drink culture thing and not an opening hours matter.

    Someone wrote that by drinking you kill your neurones. There is this old joke. Keep on drinking so your brain will improve by letting the stronger surviving neurones get rid of the weakest ones. Sorry. By the way, I think it's a good idea to open 24 hours. Maybe it is just that it had always be like that for me. I fancy a beer or two from time to time, and believe I can drink without the aim of getting drunk. Ah… yes, Madrid (Spain) is where.



  11. As a student myself (albeit not for much longer) I have to point out that binge-drinking isn't actually as big amongst students as the public seems to think. The culprits are usually first-years who have just left home and turned 18 and suddenly have legitimate access to alcohol, without parents waiting up for them etc. By 2nd year, even those who binge-drunk their way through 1st year are bored – and there are lots of us who've never felt it necessary to be semi-comatose to enjoy a night out – and by 3rd year you just don't have the time to be out drinking every night.I was allowed wine with meals and on special occasion from 16 at home, by the time I turned 18 there was no impetus to drink as much alcohol as I could find in celebration of my new-found 'adulthood'. The French have a similar attitude – perhaps that's a better approach and would cut down on binge-drinking students – which just leaves the older generation of 20&30-something binge-drinkers to sort out.

  12. There is only one explanation for the number of Brits who shame themselves and others at home and abroad, by their inability to hold their drink. The British are quite aggressive as a race (witness our colonial past). Mix this latent aggression with copious amounts of alcohol and you have a recipe for violence towards people and property – all in the name of 'having a laugh'.I know this because I have spent 22 years of my life dealing with the public as an Ambulanceman and later Paramedic. Where 70% of red calls after 2100 hours were alcohol related – and that's a conservative estimate.

    I was also a lay Magistrate and saw the same anti-social problems associated with alcohol, via the court cases.

    Having lived in Prague for 6 years and witnessed drinking parties of Brits all too often. I can now confirm my reluctance to admit to being from the UK.

    Prague has attracted countless numbers of these people (usually young men) because of the cheap drink available here. Now more and more establishments are banning these groups due to countless incidents of drunkenness and violence.

    Interestingly, the Czechs (who are noted for their beer consumption) are not a problem when they get drunk – a little noisy perhaps, but you are still safe to walk the streets here at night. Czechs (unlike the British) have a phlegmatic attitude and rarely feel the need to destroy or injure when they drink a lot. Other European countries have a similar relaxed attitude after drinking – but not those from the UK where the beer is often weaker.

    So changing the licensing laws probably won't make much difference. The British need to improve their socialization skills and adopt a thoughtfulness, that currently, is sadly lacking in many young men and women.

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