Objective: To examine the association between geographic access to alcohol outlets and serious violent crime in New Zealand.
Methods: A national study of alcohol outlet access and serious violent crime used a cross-sectional ecological analysis. Serious violence offences recorded between 2005 and 2007 were aggregated for 286 police station areas. Using Geographical Information Systems (GIS), 9,320 licensed premises were geocoded and road travel distances to the closest alcohol outlet type/category were calculated for each area. Negative binomial regression models measured the association between the distance to the closest alcohol outlet and the number of serious violent offences in each police station area, controlling for area-level measures of social deprivation, Māori population, young males 15–29 years and population density.
Results: There were significant negative associations between distance (access) to licensed outlets and the incidence of serious violent offences with greater levels of violent offending recorded in areas with close access to any licensed premises compared to those areas with least access (IRR 1.5, 95% CI 1.10–2.03); with on-licensed premises (IRR 1.6, 95% CI 1.16–2.08); and off-licensed premises (IRR 1.4, 95% CI 1.05–1.93).
Conclusion: Having greater geographic access to alcohol outlets was associated with increased levels of serious violent offending across study areas.
Implications: Alcohol availability and access promoted under the current liberalised licensing regime are important contextual determinants of alcohol-related harm within New Zealand communities.