Thursday, February 09, 2006

Good News

From the good news files;

From the Adam Smith Institute's We Told You So department comes the news that serious violent crime has fallen by over a fifth since the UK's pub licensing laws were liberalised. Police in cities, seaside resorts and market towns alike are reporting dramatic falls in alcohol-fuelled assaults since the new laws came in.

Of course, the anti-liberalization lobby had claimed that such crime would rise. And that people would drink a lot more, thanks to the later opening hours. That has not happened either – brewers report only a tiny increase in sales.

In fact, a lot of the argument over the liberalization plan was simply uninformed. Scotland dropped its strict 10pm closing regime in the late 1970s, and in some places the pubs were permitted to stay open round the clock. Suddenly, Scotland's pubs changed from being grim male drinking dens into relaxed bar-restaurants where families are welcome. Alcohol-related crime fell – with staggered closing times, the police were no longer stretched too thinly to control the crowds streaming out of the pubs – and alcohol-related disease and accidents fell too.

The benefits were so clear that the Scottish political economist Douglas Mason advocated exactly the same liberalisation for England in his ASI report Time to Call Time. It prompted Mrs Thatcher's government into bringing in a degree of liberalization, and now Tony Blair has taken things a step further. It was always obvious to anyone who had studied Mason's report that more flexible pub opening hours would bring a general improvement. Why did it take the politicians so long?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fancy treating the great unsoaped as adults capable of civilised behaviour. What a novel approach.