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Police call for 1am booze ban in Watford town centre
Police in Watford have called on for politicians to consider using new powers to shut down the town centre earlier at night - perhaps as early as 1am - to cut violence.
Senior officers in the town and Hertfordshire have said they are actively looking at the use of Early Morning Alcohol Restriction Orders (EMROs) to improve policing at night. Later this year the councils will get powers to introduce EMROs, which will restrict the sale of alcohol after a designated time without exception.
Watford’s chief inspector, Nick Caveney, has argued that an EMRO deployed at about 1am would make the town centre easier to police and a safer place.
However the idea of introducing the order has met a lukewarm reception at Watford Town Hall.
This week elected mayor Dorothy Thornhill said she wanted more information about how it would impact businesses before considering deploying an EMRO.
Chief Inspector Caveney was also keen to add that any solid proposals over an EMRO would only come about after the views of club and pub owners in the town had been sought.
He said: "The EMRO is being actively considered by ourselves.
"In a personal view, I think 1am is about right. But that would form part of the consultation and that’s way down the line.
"I think for us our peak offending time for violent crime is between 2am and 4am. For me it is indicative of alcohol intake by that time in the evening leading to increased violence.
"The argument for me is that the EMRO would restrict the level of alcohol intake, intoxication and violence."
EMROs have been around 2003 but the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, which comes into force later this year, will extend the power to local councils.
News the police are looking at the new powers comes after a road in Watford town centre was named the most violent street in Britain earlier this year.
Figures from the UKcrimestats website that showed there had been more than violent crimes, 281, reported in Albert Road Southduring 2011, more than in any other road in Britain. At the time police officers said the road had won the unwanted accolade due to a statistic skew.
Yet crime figures from the police's official stats site, Police.uk, show there have been 527 violent crimes in and around High Street since the beginning of the year.
Following police comments about EMROs Mayor Thornhill said she was not opposed and orders but she did not want to rush to use them.
She said: "I think we need to be very, very clear what the impact of the EMRO would be on everybody.
"Pretending it is the solution to all the problems I think is a bit premature. That’s not to say I am against it, far from it. I think we want to consider everything.
"I am not sure how just changing the closing time will make any difference. I think people will drink in those hours and drink the same.
"It is a tool in the box but I don’t what to rush to be the first to use it."