Newcastle City Council has defended its decision to impose a late-night levy on licensed premises that serve alcohol after midnight.

According to the latest official figures, rates of anti-social behaviour and violent crime between 18:00 and 05:00 were higher between April and November 2014 than they had been a year earlier. 

This was despite a drop in overall crime figures during this period, the Chronicle reports.

Councillor Joyce McCarty, deputy leader of Newcastle City Council, acknowledged that some crimes have risen since the late-night levy was introduced.

However, she stressed the reasons behind these increases are "not always straightforward" and may partly reflect the greater reporting of crimes.

As a result, she believes it is "crass and simplistic" for critics of the late-night levy to suggest it is not working, as "in reality, much larger sums than the levy are spent tackling crime".

Councillor McCarty went on to note that further cuts in public spending are likely in the coming years, with police budgets in particular set to be affected.

This, she said, will "change the look and feel of our city centres in the future, increasing the likelihood of rising tension and crime".

The late-night levy could therefore be "used to minimise some of the consequences of austerity", which is "another good reason to have it".

Councillor McCarty added that Newcastle was the first authority in the country to adopt the measure and has been accordingly recognised "as an innovator in this field by government and other councils who have sought to copy our approach".

She insisted that the late-night levy has "undoubtedly" helped Newcastle maintain a vibrant night-time economy and feel safer at night, as it funds measures ranging from taxi marshalls and nightclub scanners to street cleaning and additional CCTV.

Robert Botkai, a partner at Winckworth Sherwood Solicitors, commented: "It is good to see the deputy leader acknowledging that the crime data may go up and down due to numerous factors. We have had to argue this many times before committees who can be too quick to accept police data without question.”