Does the power of a full moon extend beyond lunatic fringe?

Waxing and waning: the phases of the moon
Waxing and waning: the phases of the moon

The full moon may keep the city’s police slightly busier than usual.

Saturday’s full moon - it is scheduled for 12.25pm (July 12) - may keep the city’s police slightly busier than usual.

Back in June 2007, the inspector then responsible for coordinating policing in the so-called “marble” area of Brighton, where the busiest pubs and clubs are located, noticed a link between the moon and levels of crime.

“I compared a graph of full moons and a graph of last year’s violent crimes and there is a trend,” he announced. “With each full moon, the number of disturbances recorded increased significantly. If you speak to ambulance staff, they will tell you exactly the same.” He believed aggressive behaviour increased around the full moon, and said Sussex Police would in future be putting extra officers on duty at such times.

One Brighton doorman agreed: “It’s so true. When there’s a full moon we look at the sky and say, 'Oh no, all the idiots will be out tonight'.” A 1984 Indian study supported the theory, as did a 2007 Polish one. Another in Germany in 2000 claimed the full moon saw a rise in binge-drinking “during the five-day full moon cycle”. A 1998 study of inmates at a Leeds jail noticed a rise in violent incidents around a full moon. A Bournemouth doctor claimed accident and emergency calls went up by 3%.

Some will dismiss all this as cranky unscientific hogwash.

No other police force deploys extra officers, while other scientific tests disprove the theory. But as someone who lives in the “marble” area, I can confirm that it is often unnecessary to look out of the window to know when there is a full moon, especially at weekends.

Ambient levels of noise - shouting, yelling, boom-cars, bongo-drumming, bottle-chucking, emergency sirens - increase noticeably. And it is not, as some hogwashers claim, merely the extra brightness of the sky causing this activity. The phenomenon is as noticeable when the moon is obscured. A 2013 Swiss study showed that sleep patterns were disturbed even when subjects were unaware there was a full moon.

At risk of being branded someone from the “lunatic” fringe, I maintain I can usually feel physically the pull of the full moon. I find that, if I have energy, it can redouble that energy; but ,if I am feeling weak, it can doubly drain.

Other people I know confirm they too feel energised by the full moon - or, conversely, devitalised when the moon is at the opposite end of its cycle. After all, if the moon is powerful enough to cause the ocean tides, it may well be able to affect in some way the delicate human organism.

Since some moons feel more powerful than others, I am still trying to ascertain whether these variations are linked to the position of the moon in the sky.

I suspect what I call “zenith” moons, when the moon rises to the north and moves high across the sky, may paradoxically be less potent than “low” moons, when it rises to the south, and is only in the sky for a few hours. And, of course, the moon is sometimes closer to the Earth than at others, at apogee or perigee.

Let the last word be with Laurens van der Post, a prisoner of the Japanese during the Second World War. He records how he and his fellow-prisoners dreaded full moons, which drew “a far tide of mythological frenzy” in their captors’ blood. “Seven days, three days before and three days after and on the day of the full moon itself, were always our days of greatest danger”, he says, when sadistic beatings and beheadings tended to occur.