Round-the-clock drinking laws and government funding cuts to Manchester’s police service has made it "difficult to guarantee public safety" after midnight, according to a police union leader.
Inspector Ian Hanson says that there are not enough police to deal with the “horrendous” problem of “hordes of drunks,” and has also blamed Britain’s relaxed alcohol licensing laws.
As a result, the police are finding it “difficult to guarantee public safety” in the city, Hanson told the Manchester Evening News.
Less than 10 police officers were in Manchester city center during weekends and the early hours of the morning, when violent incidents are most likely to take place, he said.
“The situation in Manchester city center is at crisis point. The number of people coming into Manchester is increasing every week and the demands upon the ridiculously few police officers fighting a losing battle to keep our city safe are spiraling out of control.”
“Officers are so stretched in the early hours of weekend mornings they have to allow offenders to walk away scot free from violent incidents,” he added.
In 2005 the Labour government relaxed Britain’s alcohol licensing laws, hoping to encourage a "café culture" similar to most other European countries.
But since the city’s pubs and clubs have been allowed to sell alcohol around the clock, Manchester’s nightlife has seen more and more incidents of thuggish behavior, vandalism and street robbery, often under the influence of alcohol.
Last month, senior police officers including Chief Superintendent Nick Adderley asked Manchester City Council to restrict the hours that pubs and clubs were allowed to sell alcohol, stating that they didn’t have enough officers to maintain order. However, their request was eventually rejected.
Hanson, who represents Manchester’s frontline officers in the UK Police Federation, also admitted that he wouldn’t go out in Manchester late at night when the city’s drinking culture is at its peak.
“I personally would not now go into Manchester city center after midnight because it is now too dangerous a place,” he said.
This is not the first time that Manchester’s police officers have complained about the pressures of patrolling the streets at night.
Hanson has accused Manchester City Council of “burying their heads in the sand” and deliberately ignoring the pleas of police officers.
“For them to reject the police proposal to restrict the crazy hours that some of these places are now open was quite simply irresponsible – they are safely tucked up in their beds whilst police officers are having to deal with the fallout from their decisions,” he said.