POLICE are demanding a ground-breaking policy to make it hard for any new pubs and clubs to open in Bournemouth town centre.

Officers want a presumption against granting any new alcohol licences, with applicants having to prove they will not make the town's crime and disorder problems worse.

The idea, which will be considered today by members of Bournemouth Borough Council's licensing board, was first demanded by police earlier this year.

In a report to be put before the board, police say: l The town centre accounts for almost a third of the town's assaults and public order offences, even though it represents only 2.2 per cent of the borough's area.

l More than half the borough's public order problems occurred in the pub-and-club district - 202 recorded offences in six months.

l A quarter of all assaults and public order offences in the Bournemouth division occur in the town centre in a four-hour period at night.

A report by DC Derek Johnson said: "It is abundantly clear that the town centre area suffers extreme volumes of violence and public order when compared with the rest of the borough and that this criminal activity is restricted to the period when almost the only commercial activity is centred on the night time economy."

Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood backed the police request. He said: "I believe we've reached a threshold in the number of pubs and clubs Bournemouth can manage.

He added: "Unfortunately there's a British disease of binge drinking and more pubs and clubs just encourage that."

Councillors are being asked to restrict new licences by adding a "cumulative impact statement" to their licensing policy.

A report from Bournemouth central's Inspector Neal MacBean said the idea was not necessarily to prevent any further licences.

But he said the "default position" would be one of refusal, with each application considered in the light of crime and disorder and the impact on the town centre.

He said the policy was backed by Operation Globe, the forum which brings together public and private sectors to discuss trouble in the town centre.