Alcohol and crime


This seminar explores, within a broad sociological and psychological context, the role played by alcohol in the commission of offences. Consequently, the 'causal' link that is usually postulated between alcohol as the trigger and criminal behaviour as its end result was critically evaluated. Issues cover the facilitating effect of alcohol in lowering inhibitions; whether alcohol is a cause of crime; the role of governments; effects of legislation which has decriminalised public drunkenness; relationship between alcohol and domestic violence and sexual offences; relationship between alcohol and the over-representation of Aborigines in the criminal justice system; extent to which considerations about alcohol affect sentencing decisions; and the legal implications of the High Court's judgment in R v O'Connor.

Canberra, 21-23 October 1980


  • Foreword
  • Resolutions of the seminar
  • Welcome and introductory remarks
    C.R. Bevan

Papers of the seminar

  • Alcohol in Australian society: psychological, economic, and historical perspectives
    S. Mugford
  • Alcohol causes crime
    H. Wallwork
  • Alcohol is a red herring (or a pink elephant if you prefer)
    M.A. Kingshott
  • Effects of Intoxicated Persons Act, New South Wales
    J. Andrews
  • The individual - freedom, community, and alcohol
    J. Tully
  • The alcoholic imperative: a sexist rationalisation for rape and domestic violence (discussion of paper)
    J.A. Scutt
  • Crime, alcohol and punishment
    I. Potas
  • The Queen v. O'Connor: the legal implications
    D. O'Connor

Discussion session

  • Random breath tests
  • Penalties for drunken driving
  • Community attitudes about drunkenness
  • Sentencing inconsistencies
  • Education concerning the effects of alcohol
  • Participants