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Keywords:

  • alcohol;
  • crime;
  • street offences;
  • police;
  • incidents;
  • licensed premises;
  • police incident survey

Abstract

There is widespread acknowledgment for a connection between alcohol consumption and crime, but the extent of the connection and its implications continue to promote debate. Previous research has concentrated on assessment of alcohol involvement of offenders following arrest. Not all incidents coming to the notice of police result in an arrest. Arrest-centred alcohol involvement research is limited as arrest is not the most common outcome of police attendance.

This study utilized an incident survey card to allow operational police officers to record their assessment of alcohol involvement for all incidents, not just arrests. Police were given clear guidelines to assist in their assessment of alcohol involvement. The survey was conducted over a 4-week period in six metropolitan Sydney Police Patrols. Levels of alcohol involvement were very high, with 77% of street offence incidents (assault, offensive behaviour and offensive language) found to be alcohol-related. Also identified was the high proportion of offences occurring in or near licensed premises. Sixty per cent of all alcohol-related street offences were included in this category. Other offences which also received a high alcohol involvement assessment were malicious damage (58%), domestic violence (40%) and noise complaints (59%). Drink driving offences were, by definition, 100% alcohol-related.