According to Home Office figures, there were 2,351 assaults in Halton between April 2008-9. And Ben Jones – who will be taking on MP Derek Twigg at the next election – claims up to 1,105 of the attacks could be drink-fuelled. He blamed ‘lax’ licensing laws for the problem and called for more council powers to tackle the issue. He said: “Labour’s licensing laws are too lax. We don’t want a return to the old days where every pub shut at 11pm. But local councils like Halton need greater powers to tackle the binge drinking and violence that plague our town centres.
“The reckless sale of high strength, bargain basement alcohol is damaging health and fuelling violence. Conservatives believe that socially-responsible adults should be able to have a night out in Widnes and Runcorn without fear of violence. We need to make our town centres feel safe at night once again.”
DCI Nick Bailey, of Cheshire Police, said: “We recognise that alcohol is a major catalyst for many of the violent crimes we see in Runcorn and Widnes. “Police and partners are working closely together to take steps to reduce the number of incidents of alcohol-related crime and disorder, and to educate people about the potential impact of their behaviour. Officers are also successfully utilising powers under section 27 of the Violent Crime reduction Act 2006. This allows a police officer to issue an individual aged 16 or over with a direction to leave a particular area for a period of up to 48 hours.”