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Norfolk police are backing moves to impose a levy on Norwich pubs and clubs to cover the cost of policing drink-related disorder.

PUBLISHED: 09:24 09 February 2012 | UPDATED: 09:29 09 February 2012

Police and revellers on prince of Wales Road, in Norwich. Picture: Simon Finlay

Police and revellers on prince of Wales Road, in Norwich. Picture: Simon Finlay

Archant é 2005

It comes as ministers launch a consultation into how the levy should work and whether village pubs, hotels and B&Bs should be exempted.

De-regulated opening hours, which came into force in 2005, mean officers have to spend longer on the streets around Prince of Wales Road.

Chief Insp Gavin Tempest, of Norfolk police, said: “Because of later opening we have to stay out later into Saturday or Sunday morning. It’s costly in terms of resources because there’s only so much to go round.

“The government is now saying that the balance has gone too far and they’ve added a couple of extra control measures that re-balance that.”

As well as imposing the levy, councils will also be able to restrict opening hours in areas where there is persistent anti-social behaviour.

“Both these things are potentially of great value to the police and the taxpayer,” said Chief Insp Tempest.

Paul Ridgeway, chair of the Norfolk Police Federation, said: “Norfolk Constabulary has got to grips with policing these issues, you can’t walk 10 yards down Prince of Wales Road without seeing a yellow jacket, but there’s a cost, which is why we support the levy.”

In a new report, crime prevention minister Lord Henley admits the extension of drinking hours has seen disorder spiral.

“Alcohol-related crime and disorder is a serious problem for many of our communities,” he said. “The promised cafe culture from later drinking hours has not materialised.

“In 2010/11, almost a million violent crimes were alcohol-related and almost half of surveyed crime victims believe the offender to have been under the influence of alcohol.

“The police are fighting an expensive battle against alcohol-related crime and disorder.”

The levy is expected to be between £300 and £4,000. Licensees in Norwich warned the extra costs would force venues to close when moves to impose a levy were revealed last year as part of a new social responsibility bill.

But most violence occurs at night, with a fifth of all incidents taking place in or around a pub or club. Alcohol-related disorder is reckoned to cost the taxpayer £13bn a year.

Lord Henley said: “Tax payers should not simply be left to pick up this cost.”

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