'Hotspots' for aggression in licensed drinking venues

Graham K, Bernards S, Osgood DW et al.
Drug and Alcohol Review


Introduction and Aims: In order to better understand the social context of barroom aggression, the aim was to identify common locations (hotspots) for aggression in bars and examine the association of hotspots with aggression severity and environmental characteristics.Design and Methods: Aggression hotspots were identified using narrative descriptions and data recorded on premises' floor plans for 1057 incidents of aggression collected in the Safer Bars evaluation. Hierarchical Linear Modelling was used to identify bar-level and night-levelcharacteristics associated with each hotspot. Results: The most common location for aggression was the dance floor (20.0% of incidents) or near the dance floor (11.5%), followed by near the serving bar (15.7%), at tables (13.1%), aisles, hallways and other areas of movement (6.2%), entrance (4.5%) and the pool playing area (4.1%). Hotspots were predicted mainly by bar-level characteristics, with dance floor aggression associated with crowded bars, a high proportion of female and young patrons, lots of sexual activity, a large number of patrons and staff, security staff present, better monitoring and coordination by staff, and people hanging around at closing. Incidents at tables and pool tables tended to occur in bars with the opposite characteristics. Nightly variations in patron intoxication and rowdiness were associated with aggression at tables while variations in crowding and sexual activity were associated with aggression in areas of movement. Incidents outside tended to be more severe. Discussion and Conclusions: Each aggression location and their associated environments have somewhat different implications for staff training, premises design, policy and prevention.