Key Points:

Roman Catholic churches across Britain plan to stage midnight mass early on Christmas Eve to avoid drunk revellers on the loose after the pubs shut.

A survey by the Catholic weekly magazine The Tablet showed churches planned to hold mass as early as six in the evening to avoid running the risk of disturbance from drunks staggering out of the pub at the traditional closing time of 11pm.

"A lot of people, having been disgorged from the pub, were attracted to the light and music and used to disrupt proceedings," said Father James O'Keefe at St Bede's Church in the northeastern city of Newcastle.

In the Scottish city of Glasgow, Father Joseph McNulty said: "I wouldn't hold a midnight mass at midnight because of the drunks. There would be too much trouble."

- REUTERS