Fears that binge-drinking and drunken disorder would spiral further out of control following the introduction of the new licensing regime last Thursday (24 November) appear to be unfounded.
Just a week into the new regime and after the first weekend of 24-hour drinking, most police forces and town centres noticed no difference whatsoever.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport confirmed that most of England and Wales's 43 police forces had seen no increase in drink-fuelled incidents over the weekend.
Police in Romford, Essex, made 34 arrests for drink-related offences last week, just one more than the week before. This unit's experience was backed up by a survey in the Daily Mirror which showed that 28 out of 36 police forces noted little increase in disorder.
Many - including Sussex, Cambridgeshire, Avon and Somerset, Cleveland, Heddlu Gwent, Merseyside, North Wales and North Yorkshire - said there was actually a decline in drunken incidents.
The trade, which generally stayed open for a couple of hours longer over the weekend, told a similar tale.
"There were one or two minor incidents but nothing out of the ordinary. Consumer behaviour has been no different from any other weekend," said Adam Collett, marketing director for Greene King's managed pubs division.
Mitchells & Butlers also reported business as usual, as did Wolverhampton & Dudley (W&D). Derek Andrews, managing director of managed pubs at W&D, said: "It was a normal weekend with nothing to report. The media obsession with reporting from casualty departments produced zilch, as we would expect."
Andrews suspected the cold snap helped keep people off the streets. "I don't think we will glean much until the warmer weather comes in the spring," he added.
The Government and police plan to monitor the impact of the more relaxed drinking laws over the next six to 12 months.
"There was no difference whatsoever, even though two pubs in the town have extended their hours until 4am and 5am. The only thing that did happen is that the police came to check there was a personal licence holder on the premises."
Deborah Harper, Town Hall, Staines (Barracuda Smith & Jones)
"There has been absolutely no change whatsoever - it's as if the law had not changed at all. We applied for an extra hour, but will only use it when we need it."
Felicity Black, managing partner, La Tasca restaurant, Newcastle
"Business was much the same as usual, but we were pleasantly surprised to find more older people who didn't want to go to a nightclub coming in during the extra time between 11pm and 12.30am."
Philip Cutter, general manager, Gardeners Arms pub and café-bar, Norwich
"There has been absolutely no difference. We applied for a 4am licence but we didn't use it, as trade had slowed by 2am. We did not experience the hit as we normally would approaching closing time."
Becky Davies, deputy manager, Revolution vodka bar, Deansgate, Manchester
By Angela Frewin
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