Time at the bar? New powers may force Hartlepool pubs and clubs to close earlier

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Licensing chiefs are set to look again at using powers to force pubs and clubs to close earlier to help tackle alcohol fuelled crime.

The Safer Hartlepool Partnership agreed to ask the council’s licensing officers to revisit using Early Morning Restriction Orders (EMROs) that could force places selling alcohol to shut at 2am instead of 4am.

It is after the partnership considered an annual report which said the estimated cost to Hartlepool of alcohol misuse is over £30 million a year and is strongly linked to violent crime.

More than a third of people who attended Hartlepool’s Minor Injury Unit after being assaulted were linked to alcohol.

The report added drink-related violent crime is highest in the Victoria and the Headland and Harbour wards and is predominantly linked to the night-time economy.

Chief Superintendant Gordon Lang said: “You think about what that does to resources to tackle it, it completely shifts the demand and the requirement for having people there to be able to deal with the inevitable, sadly, outcomes that transpire as a consequence of a lot of people and a lot of alcohol being in the same place wanting a taxi and some food.”

Chief Inspector Lynn Beeston said she thought EMROs could help bring down drink-related crime.

She said: “I think anything that would cause public houses and clubs to close earlier would be of benefit.

“We are in a situation here where all it has done has punch the problem back into the small hours of the morning so that goes on until four or five o’clock in the morning.

“Yes, I think it would help personally.”

Just over three years ago Hartlepool Borough Council considered a request from police and health chiefs to introduce a 2am EMRO for the town centre.

But the authority rejected the bid after hearing from bar managers that it could lead to job losses and businesses closures.

National pub chains also previously warned local councils could face a legal battle.