Incidents of serious violent crime have decreased by 21% since the new licensing laws were introduced in November last year, new figures have revealed.

From November last year, retailers, pubs and bars were given the green light to apply for 24-hour licences if they wanted to.

Despite critics arguing that 24-hour drinking would increase crime, figures released by the Home Office have found that in the five weeks after the licensing act came into force, serious violent crime fell by 21%, the number of woundings decreased by 14% and the total for all violent crime fell by 11%.

Licensing minister James Purnell said: “The predictions that licensing reform would lead to an immediate upsurge in crime haven’t been borne out.”

He added: “It was always our argument that by getting rid of the firm 11pm closing time you would also get rid of the number of flashpoints.”