Alcohol and Licensed Premises: Best Practice in Policing

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Project Aim

The aim of this project was to document best practice in the policing of licensed premises through consolidation of the existing knowledge base on policing of licensed premises into a single monograph.


Police spend a considerable proportion of their time dealing with alcohol-related offences. Such offences include violence and other behavioral problems related to alcohol consumption, public intoxication, traffic offences and theft or damage to property. Many of these problems are related to the way in which licensees conduct their business. Key issues include: "the way alcohol is served" the physical environment in which alcohol is consumed the ways in which relevant regulatory frameworks are enforced. A growing body of evidence demonstrates that the demographic characteristics of patrons (being young, male and single) and setting characteristics of licensed premises (crowding, poor entertainment, cheap drinks) are major contributors to alcohol-related problems in and around licensed premises. Levels of patron intoxication have also been found to be an important factor. These are factors that are amenable to change. Police enforcement strategies have been shown to be effective at increasing rates of refusal to serve alcohol to obviously intoxicated and under age customers by licensed premises staff, and in reducing alcohol-related crime and reducing alcohol-related injuries. Strategies that are complementary to formal enforcement are of particular importance in Australia for two reasons: civil law suits are very seldom used against licensees, thus removing one of the major incentives for licensees to introduce responsible hospitality policies and practices police face considerable difficulties in the routine enforcement of liquor licensing laws due to perceived difficulties in obtaining successful prosecutions and problems in operationally defining the existing licensing laws. The literature suggests that there has been a dilution of officer knowledge and skills regarding policing of licensed premises. This Monograph aims to provide a range of tools that have been shown to be useful to police in minimizing alcohol-related harms in and around licensed premises. The application of these 'tools' should be assessed in the context of local intelligence and specific geographic, temporal and socio-demographic crime and disorder problems. A 'one size fits all' approach to policing licensed drinking environments should be avoided, especially in culturally sensitive areas such as Indigenous drinking. Key issues and findings from each chapter of the Monograph are presented below followed by the recommendations that were identified for future work in this area.



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