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New Scottish licensing laws to hit 4m

Published:  23 July, 2008

SCOTLAND: Around 100 extra police officers and staff will be needed to cope with the country's new licensing laws at a cost of more than 4 million, MSPs have been warned.

Police chiefs, said ahead of the Holyrood's justice committee held on Thursday, that the time needed to process liquor licences would increase from 30 minutes to five hours, 30 minutes for renewals and seven hours, 30 minutes for new applications.

The chiefs said whereas now they would normally deal with 20,000 licence renewals across Scotland over three years, they will now have to handle the same number in 18 months - plus 1,200 fresh applications.

The report from the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland warned unless there was extra cash, forces would have to take officers away from other duties. Nineteen extra staff would be needed in Lothian & Borders. The total cost of extra staffing was put at 4,137,066, The Scotsman reported.

The new Licensing Act will not fully come into force until August 2009, but the start of the switchover for licences will begin in February next year.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The biggest drain on police resources is alcohol-fuelled violence and disorder, which the Licensing Act is designed to help tackle."