Violence and longer bar opening hours

There is a direct link between longer bar opening times and increases in violence, new research has suggested. Published in the journal Addiction, the study found that even minor changes to closing hours can affect the number of such incidents that take place.

According to the investigation, just a one-hour extension of these times results in a rise of 20 violent cases per night at the weekend - which calculates to an escalation of around 16 per cent.

Lead author of the report Professor Ingeborg Rossow said: "These findings echo the results from studies from around the world that you see more violence in cities when you extend trading hours."

Professor Thor Norstrum, who co-authored the report, observed the findings seem to suggest restricting trading hours of licensed venues can be an effective way to combat alcohol-related harm.

The study comes after recent research from George Mason University found bisexual females may be at greater risk of suffering from alcohol abuse than their male counterparts.

Dr Derek Lee, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "In some ways this is no surprise as it has long been recognised that the more people drink then the more alcohol-related harm is found. This harm covers the whole spectrum from effects on the individual in terms of physical and psychological harm, disruption of personal relationships, involvement in criminal activity and the effects on wider society in terms of the economic and social costs.

"This article also illustrates that the whole alcohol and drugs agenda is very politicised – there is an uneasy tension between the commercial needs of the drinks industry, the money that taxes on alcohol bring into the Treasury, and the costs of dealing with the health and social consequences of harmful levels of drinking. 

"The answer may not be to have shorter opening times because the determinants of drinking are likely to be very complex. People will drink quicker to get their fill if opening times are shortened and if all bars close at the same time there is a big outpouring of people onto the street at once – these were arguments used to support the introduction of more flexible opening times in the UK. 

"On the other hand, it seems a little paradoxical to increase access to one of the nation's most harmful substances while vigorously trying to control the supply of drugs such as heroin, cocaine and cannabis that are proscribed by society. There needs to be a cultural shift in the way people use alcohol in their daily lives. Education and awareness-raising are part of this process, but we need to look at the whole social fabric within which these behaviours unfold in order to have a better understanding of how to bring about changes.

"We also need to understand where the violent acts are occurring. There are important reporting and detecting differences between violent acts in public and the greater violence occurring behind closed doors in the form of alcohol-related domestic abuse."