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Do alcohol specials in bars promote violence?

20 July, 2015

Melbourne's CBD has become increasingly violent at night. Ambulance call outs for alcohol intoxification increased by 258% between 2000 - 01 and 2010 - 11. This no doubt gives the impression that going out anywhere in inner-city Melbourne at night is a risky proposition, however research has shown that assaults in licensed venues are highly concentrated in specific licensed venues.

A study conducted in inner Sydney found that half of all of the assaults in hotels occurred in only 10% of the venues. A similar pattern of the concentration of harm in risky venues has occurred in other cities around the world.

An observational study was conducted of 45 licensed venues in the Melbourne CBD by 18 experts in Melbourne's night-time economy. This included managers, bar staff, security guards and entertainers who surveyed the venues and then rated them as to their risk of aggression.

Promoting violence? Alcohol specials lead to increased aggression in bars

A research team member then visited the venue on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night and while they were having a drink they made a quick rating of a number of the venue's characteristics including its maintenance and atmosphere, patron behaviour and security levels. These ratings were then compared to the expert's ratings and they were found to be closely aligned in order to see which were most closely associated with aggression.

Alcohol promotions were found to be the single most important predictor of perceived violence across the 45 venues. The levels of violence were consistently higher in the venues where alcohol was promoted through measures such as cheap drinks, extended happy hours, "buy two get one free" and so on. In other words, alcohol promotions encourage people to drink more alcohol more quickly which leads to increased levels of aggression inside the venues.

Whilst these results are from a single, modest study, they are consistent with research from other similar studies. It also suggests that promotions involving alcohol increase the risk of alcohol-related harm in licensed premises.

The "Newcastle Model" in Australia has introduced modestly reduced opening hours which has dramatically reduced the number of alcohol-related assaults. Regulators may wish to consider strengthening responsible service of alcohol initiatives that focus on alcohol promotion as a specific harm-minimisation strategy.

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Source  :  Hospitality Magazine, 13 July 2015