New licensing laws failed to produce the negative effects predicted by many in the runup to Christmas.

Critics of the more relaxed regulations, introduced in November, feared they could lead to an increase in binge-drinking and related violence.

But police across the Midlands have enjoyed a relatively peaceful Christmas.

Warwickshire Police reported a drop in drink-related disorder incidents and assaults over the festive season.

In the Warwick district, assaults were down from 31 to 15 and incidents of disorder down from 45 to 14.

Five people were arrested for assault, compared to ten last year.

The figures relate to the three weekends up to and including Christmas Eve. Chief Inspector Chris Jackson

said that New Year's Eve was also peaceful.

He said: "I am delighted to see such a significant reduction in levels of disorder over the festive period.

"The hard work and proactive stance taken by licensees, door staff, CCTV and police - who can now all talk to each other by radio - means that drunken, disorderly behaviour is now being targeted much more effectively."

The new strategy means

that if one establishment turns someone away for bad behaviour, then other pubs and clubs in the area can be notified quickly so they can also refuse admission.

The new on-the-spot fines also proved a success, with several people getting a more expensive night out than they bargained for after being handed £80 fixed penalty tickets.

Chief Inspector Jackson added: "I feel these measures

are having a significant impact on moderating behaviour which means providing a safer and more respectable night time economy for the rest of us."

There were no specific figures available for the Stratford district, but Inspector Charlie Butler said: "It was a quiet Christmas with most people well behaved and very few incidents of disorder."

And New Year's Eve also passed off quietly in the area.

Inspector Tim Bailey, who was on duty in Stratford, said: "It was very peaceful, with just one arrest shortly before midnight.

"The town centre was very busy, but there were no major incidents."

Figures for Rugby, Bed-worth and Nuneaton in the north of the county have yet to be collated, but a force spokeswoman confirmed that they had all experienced the same trend.

She said: "There were lots of extra officers on the streets to help combat any violence, but there were no serious incidents at all."

Staffordshire police were also cautiously optimistic. Statistics for the county as a whole were not yet available, but a spokesperson for the Chase division said that only 17 per cent of violence in December was drink or drug-related, compared to 21 per cent the previous year.