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New study highlights effective alcohol related crime prevention in entertainment precincts

Media Release

10 December 2012

The most comprehensive Australian study into alcohol related crime - which compares tough licensing regulations in Newcastle and hotel industry self-regulation in Geelong - has been released by the National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund (NDLERF).

Dealing with alcohol-related harm and the night-time economy (DANTE), authored by Associate Professor Peter Miller, Associate Professor Darren Palmer and a team of researchers from Deakin University and Hunter New England Population Health, examines alcohol related crime prevention measures in Newcastle, where licensing regulation was mandated and enforced from 2008, and Geelong, where interventions focused on harm and violence reduction.

NDLERF board chairman, Superintendent Tony Cooke (NSWPF): “In Australia, alcohol related violence and anti-social behaviour, particularly around entertainment precincts remains at unacceptable levels. Tragically, we have seen deaths as a result.

“Comparing two regional cities with similar populations, but employing differing approaches, was an important exercise in continuing to examine what works to reduce assault and alcohol related crime. This type of research is important for policing.  Continuing to generate an understanding of what is effective and providing the evidence base to support it, can provide the catalyst for policy and legislative development.” 

The DANTE report analyses interventions applied in both regions, mandatory and non-mandatory.  These include patrons “locked-out” of clubs after 1.30am, the prohibition of shots after 10pm and restrictions on the number of drinks being served (mandated by licence conditions in Newcastle) and the introduction of ID scanners, better communication systems between venue and police, and education campaigns (non-mandated in Geelong).

The report also utilised hospital admission records, police records and ambulance callouts to track and analyse the incidence of alcohol related assault. Researchers also conducted a massive program of 4000 patron interviews and over 120 unannounced venue observations. Pre-drinking was found to be a major predictor of people experiencing harm and violence.

Another part of the study looked at community attitudes towards alcohol-related harm and the available policy options. It found that most people surveyed had witnessed an aggressive act in licensed venues and that the more than nine out of ten people surveyed believed licenced venues should shut by 3am. There was similar support for more police on the street.

The report’s release follows this year’s Operation Unite, the Australasia-wide police blitz on alcohol related crime in entertainment precincts and on the roads from December 7-9.

“As the report indicates, this is a complex problem which requires a multi-faceted approach. NDLERF will continue to support research of this kind and I thank Dr Miller and his team for their work,” Superintendent Cooke said

NDLERF publications are managed by the Australian Institute of Criminology.