Report calls time on happy hours

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The Independent Online
HAPPY HOURS, aimed at luring early-evening drinkers into pubs and bars, encourage binge drinking and should be scrapped, a Home Office report said yesterday.

The research found many incidents of alcohol-related violence were linked to bingeing rather than people with chronic alcohol problems. The trend was aggravated by changes in drinking habits from a working-class, male- dominated culture towards one focusing on bingeing at weekends and in groups by men and women. Happy hours only encouraged people to drink heavily and should be avoided, said the report.

It pointed to an experiment in a town in Victoria, Australia, where bars agreed to drop happy hours which, with other measures, led to a marked decrease in violent behaviour.

The Home Office report said drink abuse cost Britain pounds 3bn a year, with one in six calls to the emergency services involving an alcohol-related incident.

A quarter of all people arrested by the police were drunk, and alcohol played a part in nearly half of all violent- crime incidents, three-quarters of assaults and was strongly linked to domestic violence and child abuse.