This article considers the potential impact o f the Licensing Act 2003 and the nature of change that may be expected to result from extended opening hours. It looks at recent trends in crime and evidence of the growing significance of alcohol-related offences in England and Wales. It notes that while violent crime as identified by the British Crime Survey continues to fall, there has been a marked increase in ‘stranger violence’ that may be linked to the growth of the night-time economy in many UK towns and cities. The article analyses recent data concerning the use of alcohol by young people and ‘binge drinking’, and it also considers the current debate over the implementation of the Licensing Act, particularly the ability of local residents to influence the determination of extended opening hours. It reviews the role of the local authority as a licensing authority and the potential problem of appeals by licensees against decisions made by the new licensing authority. The article assesses the implications of such appeals in relation to section 17 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and the pervasive influence of the drinks industry in contemporary society.