May plans to scrap 24-hour pubs

Round-the-clock pub opening in England and Wales may be ended after the Home Secretary blamed it for an increase in alcohol-fuelled violence. Theresa May announced a review of the licensing reforms introduced by the previous government seven years ago.

She told the Police Federation conference: "We are going to look at the licensing laws. I was in opposition when the new laws were introduced and I argued against them.

"I argued that those were the sorts of problems that would come about but I was told we would have a café culture. We think they have produced problems on the streets. There are some other issues to look at around the binge-drinking culture that has grown up."

In her first speech since her appointment, she also promised to hand power back to the police by reducing paperwork and removing Whitehall-imposed targets.

She said officers would be given more discretion in their duties, including the right to charge minor offenders without reference to the Crown Prosecution Service.

In return, Ms May added, they would have to accept local accountability by answering to a directly elected police commissioner.

"I want to give the service back its professional responsibility, getting rid of the centralised bureaucracy that wastes money, saps morale and crushes innovation," she told the conference in Bournemouth.

Ms May refused to guarantee that police numbers – currently around 140,000 – would not fall as a result of the spending squeeze.

Alan Johnson, the shadow Home Secretary, said the plan for elected commissioners would "politicise police operations, undermining the basic principles of policing in this country".