Dealing with alcohol-related harm and the night-time economy


Monograph no. 43

Peter Miller, Jennifer Tindall, Anders Sonderlund, Daniel Groombridge, Christophe Lecathelinais, Karen Gillham, Emma McFarlane, Florentine de Groot, Nicolas Droste, Amy Sawyer, Darren Palmer, Ian Warren, John Wiggers

The ‘Dealing with alcohol-related harm and the night-time economy (DANTE)’ study compared the effectiveness of alcohol-related crime prevention measures put in place between 2005 and 2010 through licensing regulation in Newcastle (NSW) and the voluntary programs run in Geelong (Victoria). The study reviewed hospital, police and ambulance records to evaluate the rates of alcohol-related harm. 4000 patron interviews and 129 unannounced venue observations were undertaken and community attitudes towards alcohol-related harm and the available policy options were also canvassed. Across this very large range of data, the key findings were that a substantial amount of harm was associated with pre-drinking and that measures that dealt directly with alcohol consumption employed in Newcastle, such as restricted trading hours, were the most effective in reducing alcohol-related crime. The study found such measures need to be implemented across all venues, rather than just a specific venues to ensure a level-playing field for business and act as a vehicle for culture change amongst patrons. A range of interventions analysed in the study were found ineffective, including: the introduction of ID scanners, improved communication between venues and police and education campaigns (which were voluntary in Geelong). Strong, consistent policing using substantial personal fines was also found effective, but requires policing levels which are seldom sustained. Illicit drug use is fairly low, but does predict greater experience of violence and harm. The community surveys revealed that most people believed alcohol was a problem in their entertainment precincts and that nine out of ten people believed licenced venues should shut by 3am. There was similar support for more police on the street. The study concluded that while night-time economies, such as nightclubs and bars, are an important part of our urban and regional centres they are also places where violence and injury occur at great cost to the community. Using policies based on the evidence of this and other independent research can help create safe and vibrant night-time entertainment districts.