Warning Edinburgh festival late licences are fuelling drunken violence
BOOZED-UP thugs are being fuelled by late licences granted for bars during the Capital’s festivals, police representatives have warned.
Scottish Police Federation east area committee chair Andy Malcolm said extensions to 5am are putting emergency workers at risk.
He said cells are full of drunken offenders each morning with the Cowgate among hotspots of trouble.
“The biggest problem is that we have the fringe and the festival increasing the population of Edinburgh and the number of people travelling in and out but in terms of police we stay stuck on the same numbers with added demands,” said Mr Malcolm.
“Licences have been extended to 5am and I just don’t get the logic of it for a country and a city trying to prides itself on the reduction of harm and the reduction of issues.
“Effectively, it’s a 24-hour licence. You can go around the city and get access to alcohol 24 hours a day.”
Mr Malcolm claimed the extension of drinking hours was in breach of the main trenches of licensing law - namely to protect public health as well as crime and disorder.
“It seems we’re failing and as a consequence of that, police officers and health workers are in danger.
“It puts pressure on resources which are already under-resourced and under pressure,” he added.
Licensing chiefs have adopted a policy of allowing festival venues open later for years - with most two hour extensions to existing premises.
A few later extensions have been granted around the university but council officers stress each application is taken on its own merit.
Council bosses have asked residents’ opinions on the policy every five years and say the only comments received relate to extensions outside festival time.
Licensing chiefs say comments have been noted and argue decisions have been much stricter outside festival season.
Pubs, bars and clubs are allowed to apply for extended hours for a variety of purposes and special events.
Recent examples include televising live boxing broadcasts from abroad or the Super Bowl from the US which the board will consider.
Licensing Board Convener, Councillor Norman Work, said: “Applications for 5am licences, whether on an occasional basis or as a variation to an existing licence, are considered by the Licensing Board on an individual basis, in consultation with Police Scotland, and are often granted with attached conditions.
“We recently consulted on the terms of the Licensing Board’s policy, which included provision for the two hour extension of licensed hours during the festival and festive periods.
“The police response to the consultation commented about the increased use of extension of licensed hours other than at festival and festive periods.
“This was duly taken account of by the Board, when the new policy statement was agreed.”