LONGER pub opening hours have led to a DROP in violent crime in Hyndburn, it was revealed this week.
Before the new Licensing Act came into force last November there were fears that the extended availability of alcohol might lead to an increase in disorder.
But the opposite has proved the case as reported violence in licensed premises fell during November and December, with December showing a 50 per cent reduction on the previous year despite opportunities to drink longer over the festive season.
In Hyndburn violent crime in licensed premises accounted for only six per cent of all violent crime, as opposed to the average of 14 per cent across Lancashire.
Council leader Peter Britcliffe said: "This is good news. Decent responsible citizens are enjoying their leisure time when they want to do so without the fear of violence.
"We should recognise the invaluable contribution made by our landlords and landladies who do some tremendous work, often in difficult circumstances, so that the majority of us can have a drink in safe surroundings."
His comments were echoed by Inspector Terry Woods, the head of Accrington Police, who said: "Our joined-up approach to this issue, coupled with initiatives such as Night Safe and Pub Watch, has paid dividends.
"We have over 300 licensed premises in Hyndburn and to have only nine offences of violence in a month, particularly December, is good but still only the start. We want it to continue all year."
Under the Pub Watch scheme, anyone who has used violence in any pub or club can be banned from all licensed premises which have joined the scheme, and with membership growing it is a strong deterrent to would-be offenders.