Rape, domestic violence and serious assault will increase once Britain’s drinking laws are relaxed: that’s the warning issued by senior judges in England and Wales.As of November this year the traditional closing bell at 11pm will be a thing of the past, sparking fears of an upsurge in alcohol-fueled crime. But Rob Hayward from the British Beer and Pub Association disagrees: “The vast majority of applications are only for an extra hour for a Friday and Saturday. There is virtually no pub in the land that has applied for major extensions. So what we are not going to see is a huge increase in drinking time and this was the fear that generated the comments from the judges,” he said. The government hopes later opening hours will lead to more moderate,Mediterranean-style drinking. Opposition conservatives described the new lawas a great mistake. “It’s a question of enforcing the existing law. If it is not properly enforced then I think the position is going to get worse and worse and the courts will be overloaded with people committing crime, nasty crime as a result, directly because of alcohol intake,” said Tory MP Humphrey Mallins. The government argues the new rules will curb violence by stopping drinkers pouring out onto the streets at the same time. Back in 1988 there were strong warnings of binge drinking when pubs were allowed to stay open all day, but research has since shown that consumption dropped per capita in the five years that followed.