Shetland’s licensing board today agreed to extend licensing hours for nightclubs on Friday and Saturday nights from 2am until 3am.
The 3am extension for nightclubs would also apply to the whole of the two weeks over the festive period. These two changes were suggested by the licensing forum.
At the licensing board meeting, chairman George Smith said each licensee would have to decide whether opening until 3am was financially worth it.
The 3am “terminal hour” would depend on the premises having stewards in attendance.
Member Alastair Cooper asked why it was assumed that people would disperse better at 3am than 2am?
Infrastructure chief Maggie Sandison said the impression was that if people have longer within licensed premises they disperse “naturally” rather than everyone leaving together. People disperse during Up-Helly-A’ when they had had enough, she added.
Police chief inspector Angus MacInnes said he would make sure there would be police on the street when people came out: “If more calls come between 2am and 3am we will have to adapt [to that].”
Member Amanda Westlake said she “very much” supported the 3am closure, and said it should not be assumed people were going to misbehave. She said: “Time will tell if crime rates increase or decrease.”
The meeting heard that fast food outlets could apply to have their operating hours extended to cope with the people leaving clubs at 3am.
Mr MacInnes said that a policy of proactive policing, with officers visiting premises early in the afternoon and evening and talking to customers when they are “still sober” had paid off. There has been an increase of 110 per cent in licensed premises checks, and the “direct result” of this had been that crimes of violence were down by 47 per cent and disorder, including vandalism and noise, was down by 50 per cent.