WEST Yorkshire’s top cop has said pubs and clubs should pick up the tab for the resources needed to police 24-hour drinking.
Sir Norman Bettison, chief constable for West Yorkshire, made the call during a visit to Huddersfield yesterday.
His comments come after a demand by Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman for an end to round-the-clock boozing.
Bar owners claim such restrictions would decimate Huddersfield’s night-time economy.
Sir Norman stopped short of backing Mr Sheerman’s stance, but said action was needed.
He said: “I’m not calling for a reduction of licensing hours, but 24-hour licensing costs the police an awful lot more in terms of the resources needed to deal with the consequences.
“The town centres now, here in Huddersfield and in other places, are buzzing at four and 5am, so you still need a full police contingent to deal with the results of someone making a commercial profit out of selling alcohol.
“In my view what should happen is that the polluter should pay.
“I think there should be a levy on licences to pay for the policing services simply to mop up after their clientele.”
Sir Norman was in Huddersfield to meet the senior management team responsible for the Kirklees division.
He took a tour of the town centre with Pc Chris Hill, of Huddersfield South Neighbourhood Policing Team.
They went to Huddersfield Bus Station, which saw half as many robberies this summer as last.
He also took a walk down King Street and Cross Church Street to find out about the challenges facing police at night.
Sir Norman said: “When I was policing operations some years ago, once you got the pubs closed at 11.30pm and people were on the bus home the town was quiet and you could deploy your officer strength in a different way
“Now the clubs stay open principally because they are in competition with each other for a market share.
“If they were required to close at one or 2am I don’t think it would affect their profits a great deal. They are all staying open because they have to.
“The cafe culture that 24 hour licensing was intended to create hasn’t come to pass in a lot of our towns and cities. It has created a lout culture.
“I’m not wanting to create a political storm, all I’m saying from a chief constable’s point of view is that policing comes at a price.”