The nature and extent of policing alcohol related crime and reducing violence in and around late night entertainment areas

Palk, Gavan Roger Mark (2008) The nature and extent of policing alcohol related crime and reducing violence in and around late night entertainment areas. PhD by Publication, Queensland University of Technology.


The misuse of alcohol is well documented in Australia and has been associated with disorders and harms that often require police attention. The extent of alcohol-related incidents requiring police attention has been recorded as substantial in some Australian cities (Arro, Crook, & Fenton, 1992; Davey & French, 1995; Ireland & Thommeny, 1993). A significant proportion of harmful drinking occurs in and around licensed premises (Jochelson, 1997; Stockwell, Masters, Phillips, Daly, Gahegan, Midford, & Philp, 1998; Borges, Cherpitel, & Rosovsky, 1998) and most of these incidents are not reported to police (Bryant & Williams, 2000; Lister, Hobbs, Hall, & Winlow, 2000). Alcohol-related incidents have also been found to be concentrated in certain places at certain times (Jochelson, 1997) and therefore manipulating the context in which these incidents occur may provide a means to prevent and reduce the harm associated with alcohol misuse. One of the major objectives of the present program of research was to investigate the occurrence and resource impact of alcohol-related incidents on operational (general duties) policing across a large geographical area. A second objective of the thesis was to examine the characteristics and temporal/spatial dynamics of police attended alcohol incidents in the context of Place Based theories of crime. It was envisaged that this approach would reveal the patterns of the most prevalent offences and demonstrate the relevance of Place Based theories of crime to understanding these patterns. In addition, the role of alcohol, time and place were also explored in order to examine the association between non criminal traffic offences and other types of criminal offences. A final objective of the thesis was to examine the impact of a situational crime prevention strategy that had been initiated to reduce the violence and disorder associated with late-night liquor trading premises. The program of research in this doctorate thesis has been undertaken through the presentation of published papers. The research was conducted in three stages which produced six manuscripts, five of which were submitted to peer reviewed journals and one that was published in a peer reviewed conference proceedings. Stage One included two studies (Studies 1 & 2) both of which involved a cross sectional approach to examine the prevalence and characteristics of alcohol-related incidents requiring police attendance across three large geographical areas that included metropolitan cities, provincial regions and rural areas. Stage Two of the program of research also comprised two cross sectional quantitative studies (Studies 3 & 4) that investigated the temporal and spatial dynamics of the major offence categories attended by operational police in a specific Police District (Gold Coast). Stage Three of the program of research involved two studies (Studies 5 & 6) that assessed the effectiveness of a situational crime prevention strategy. The studies employed a pre-post design to assess the impact on crime, disorder and violence by preventing patrons from entering late-night liquor trading premises between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. (lockout policy). Although Study Five was solely quantitative in nature, Study Six included both quantitative and qualitative aspects. The approach adopted in Study Six, therefore facilitated not only a quantative comparison of the impact of the lockout policy on different policing areas, but also enabled the processes related to the implementation of the lockout policy to be examined. The thesis reports a program of research involving a common data collection method which then involved a series of studies being conducted to explore different aspects of the data. The data was collected from three sources. Firstly a pilot phase was undertaken to provide participants with training. Secondly a main study period was undertaken immediately following the pilot phase. The first and second sources of data were collected between 29th March 2004 and 2nd May 2004. Thirdly, additional data was collected between the 1st April 2005 and 31st May 2005. Participants in the current program of research were first response operational police officers who completed a modified activity log over a 9 week period (4 week pilot phase & 5 week survey study phase), identifying the type, prevalence and characteristics of alcohol-related incidents that were attended. During the study period police officers attended 31,090 alcohol-related incidents. Studies One and Two revealed that a substantial proportion of current police work involves attendance at alcohol-related incidents (i.e., 25% largely involving young males aged between 17 and 24 years). The most common incidents police attended were vehicle and/or traffic matters, disturbances and offences against property. The major category of offences most likely to involve alcohol included vehicle/traffic matters, disturbances and offences against the person (e.g., common & serious assaults). These events were most likely to occur in the late evenings and early hours of the morning on the weekends, and importantly, usually took longer for police to complete than non alcohol-related incidents. The findings in Studies Three and Four suggest that serious traffic offences, disturbances and offences against the person share similar characteristics and occur in concentrated places at similar times. In addition, it was found that time, place and incident type all have an influence on whether an incident attended by a police officer is alcohol-related. Alcohol-related incidents are more likely to occur in particular locations in the late evenings and early mornings on the weekends. In particular, there was a strong association between the occurrence of alcohol-related disturbances and alcohol-related serious traffic offences in regards to place and time. In general, stealing and property offences were not alcohol-related and occurred in daylight hours during weekdays. The results of Studies Five and Six were mixed. A number of alcohol-related offences requiring police attention were significantly reduced for some policing areas and for some types of offences following the implementation of the lockout policy. However, in some locations the lockout policy appeared to have a negative or minimal impact. Interviews with licensees revealed that although all were initially opposed to the lockout policy as they believed it would have a negative impact on business, most perceived some benefits from its introduction. Some of the benefits included, improved patron safety and the development of better business strategies to increase patron numbers. In conclusion, the overall findings of the six studies highlight the pervasive nature of alcohol across a range of criminal incidents, demonstrating the tremendous impact alcohol-related incidents have on police. The findings also demonstrate the importance of time and place in predicting the occurrence of alcohol-related offences. Although this program of research did not set out to test Place Based theories of crime, these theories were used to inform the interpretation of findings. The findings in the current research program provide evidence for the relevance of Place Based theories of crime to understanding the factors contributing to violence and disorder, and designing relevant crime prevention strategies. For instance, the results in Studies Five and Six provide supportive evidence that this novel lockout initiative can be beneficial for public safety by reducing some types of offences in particular areas in and around late-night liquor trading premises. Finally, intelligent-led policing initiatives based on problem oriented policing, such as the lockout policy examined in this thesis, have potential as a major crime prevention technique to reduce specific types of alcohol-related offences.

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ID Code: 29963
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD by Publication)
Supervisor: Davey, Jeremy & Freeman, James
Keywords: policing, alcohol-related incidents, crime prevention, place based theories, problem oriented policing, lockout policy, late-night liquor trading
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Qld (CARRS-Q)
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 22 Jan 2010 04:58
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2017 14:43

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