Researchers are to spend the next three years studying how changes to Aberdeen bar and nightclub opening hours have impacted the emergency services as part of a £1.1 million project.
The initiative, which will also focus on Glasgow, is the first of its kind to be held in the UK and will be led by academics at Stirling University.
Funded by the UK Government, the Elephant study (Evaluating Later Or Expanded Premises Hours For Alcohol In The Night-Time Economy) will examine the effect of licensing extensions on ambulance call-outs, crime levels and other public services.
It has been designed to build upon research conducted in Norway, Amsterdam and Australia which found that allowing venues to stay open just one hour longer can lead to “significantly” more assaults and alcohol-related incidents.
Professor Niamh Fitzgerald, director of the Institute for Social Marketing and Health at Stirling University, said: “International evidence suggests that late-night alcohol sales are associated with increased rates of assaults, injuries and disorder.
“In the UK alone, ambulance call-outs due to alcohol are estimated at more than 171,000 annually, costing around £52m.
“However, there are no UK studies looking at how opening hours affect ambulance call-outs, or how they lead to changes in business practices, policing, health services and wider economic costs.
“Our study aims to understand and assess the impact of later opening hours on harms caused by alcohol, services and costs in Aberdeen and Glasgow, including for specific groups, and the implications for other UK cities if similar changes were introduced.”