Estimating the short-term cost of police time spent dealing with alcohol-related crime in NSW


It is well established that alcohol is an important situational risk factor for a number of crime types, such as violence, malicious damage to property, public disorder and dangerous driving. While there is evidence that alcohol is involved in about one-half of assault hospitalisations and one-third of road fatalities, the specific impact that such incidents place on police resources has been difficult to quantify. This study conducted an activity survey across a representative sample of NSW Police Force Local Area Commands. Activity surveys, conducted on a random sample of LACs for a limited time period, have the advantage of being accurate but much cheaper to conduct that a full audit of the entire police service over a prolonged period. The main aims were to estimate the percentage of police officers' time which is spent dealing with alcohol-related issues and to quantify the salary costs of this time. As well as being asked to record the type of alcohol-related incident attended, police officers were asked to provide information about the time actually spent on the incident. The activity survey was designed to directly measure the profile of alcohol-related activities engaged in by police (both proactive and reactive) and the amount of time spent dealing with such incidents relative to other incident types. Dollar values were assigned to police time on the basis of each participating officer's hourly salary. (Introduction, edited)