The UK media has switched to overdrive as the Government attempts to calm fears of an explosion in drink-fuelled disorder when the licensing laws are relaxed later this year. Ministers have announced new rules today (21 January) which rejects the move for compulsory upfront charges on pub operators to pay for extra policing.

The changes suggest a warning system for problem pubs, giving them eight weeks to clean up their act before being billed. Under the new system, the largest city or town centre pubs will pay a £1,905 initial application fee and an annual fee of £1,050 to the local authority for a license extension - before it was £30 every three years to the magistrates to serve alcohol until 11pm at night regardless of venue size.

New Drinking Banning Orders will be introduced, banning people with three on-the-spot fines or convictions for drink-related offences from pubs and bars in specified areas for a fixed time.

Children who attempt to buy alcohol will also face on the spot fines, as will bar staff who serve drunks. Police and trading standards officers will be given the power to ban premises from selling alcohol for 24 hours where there is evidence that they are persistently selling to under 18s.