Alcohol Linking Program

Contact name: 
John Wiggers
Position: 
Senior lecturer/ director
Organization: 
Hunter Population Health, NSW
Telephone: 
+61 249 24 6 247
Address: 
Hunter Population Health Locked Bag, 10 Wallsend, 2287 NSW, Australia
Fax: 
+61 249 24 6 209
Summary

This project focused on the development and evaluation of a program to enhance police enforcement of liquor licensing laws as they relate to licensed premises.Evaluation: Preliminary results suggest a reduction of up to 22% in the number of intoxicated patrons involved in incidents that followed their reported consumption of alcohol on audited premises.Conclusion: The system has been shown to contribute to a reduction of alcohol-related crime and has been adopted in routine practice by NSW police state-wide. It is a good example of how research can be conducted in a way that bridges the gap between policy research and policy practice.

Abstract

Background

Various community and government strategies are undertaken to ensure that licensed drinking venues provide the intended opportunity for safe alcohol consumption. Enforcement of licensing laws is proposed as one such strategy. Through enforcement, the risk of harm has the potential to be reduced through enhanced licensee compliance with pricing and promotion controls; responsible hospitality practices; regulation of patron behaviour and changes to environmental and management practices. Despite its potential, little is known of the effectiveness of enforcement in achieving harm reduction outcomes.

Objectives

To facilitate the adoption of an alcohol-related harm reduction innovation into service delivery practice. The focus was the development and evaluation of a program to enhance police enforcement of liquor licensing laws as they relate to licensed premises.

Characteristics

These include:

  • Development and delivery of a rationale for enhancement of police enforcement;
  • Development of an acceptable enforcement program;
  • Development of an evidence base regarding the efficacy of the program in reducing alcohol-related crime;
  • Development of an evidence base regarding the acceptability of the program;
  • Development of an evidence base regarding the feasibility of the program being adopted into routine policing practice;
  • Development of an evidence base regarding the effectiveness of the program in reducing alcohol-related crime;
  • The provision of resources for the research and adoption process.
Evaluation

Preliminary results suggest a reduction of up to 22% in the number of intoxicated patrons involved in incidents that followed their reported consumption of alcohol on audited premises.

Conclusion

The system has been shown to contribute to a reduction of alcohol-related crime and has been adopted in routine practice by NSW police state-wide. It is a good example of how research can be conducted in a way that bridges the gap between policy research and policy practice.

Intervention details

Type of intervention
Harm reduction
Problem addressed
Alcohol, Vandalism, Violence, Aggression, Nuisance
Intervention setting
Bar
Club/disco/afters
Community
Hotels
Target population

Licensed premises

Substances adressed
Alcohol
Strategic target group (social agents acting as intermediaries between intervention and target group)

Police

Intervention activities
Providing information
Research
Nightlife management
Actions
These include:Development and delivery of a rationale for enhancement of police enforcement;Development of an acceptable enforcement program;Development of an evidence base regarding the efficacy of the program in reducing alcohol-related crime;Development of an evidence base regarding the acceptability of the program;Development of an evidence base regarding the feasibility of the program being adopted into routine policing practice;Development of an evidence base regarding the effectiveness of the program in reducing alcohol-related crime;The provision of resources for the research and adoption process.
Theory/evidence behind the intervention

Different types of research evidence are required to be assessed by service providers when making service delivery decisions. Such evidence ranges from basic science and descriptive data, through efficacy and effectiveness trial results, to outcomes arising from dissemination and adoption studies. Despite the importance of each evidence type, various analyses of research activity, including that in the alcohol field, have identified a preponderance of basic science and descriptive research activity and least activity in the areas of dissemination and adoption research. As the likelihood of a service innovation having a population wide harm reduction impact is determined by its uptake by service providers, the relative absence of dissemination and adoption research presents an impediment to the achievement of such an impact.Concerns regarding the failure of efficacious innovations to be adopted into practice have resulted in various strategies being proposed to enhance the likelihood of this occurring. It is suggested that such strategies need to be applied at the inception of, and throughout the life of a research programme, not simply at its conclusion.

Number of people needed
A key strategy involved the employment of full time staff located in police stations to ensure that the program adoption procedures were implemented in a manner that was relevant to and respectful of existing police circumstances, values and practices.
Specific training required?
All operational police were provided training that addressed the rationale for the program and procedures for data collection. A comprehensive learning package and materials were provided.

Evaluation details

Evaluation type (e.g. process, outcome, cost-effectiveness)
Outcome evaluation
Activities evaluated

All

Evaluation results (Process evaluation)

Two thirds or more of police respondents considered the approach to be acceptable, appropriate and more effective than conventional enforcement approaches in increasing licensee compliance. Almost all licensees found the audit visit acceptable, and approximately half found the feedback report and police audit useful in aiding the modifications of their service practices.

Over a 12-month period following implementation of the adoption strategies, between 87% and 100% of incidents had the required alcohol intelligence data fields appropriately completed.In a 6-month pre - post comparison, increases of between 56% and 1100% were observed across offence types in the proportion of offences reported to have involved a person who had consumed alcohol prior to the incident.The data suggest 10% of licensed premises accounted for 50% of people involved in police attended incidents following their reported consumption of alcohol on licensed premises.

Specific premises were reported to have been the last place of alcohol consumption by up to 190 people over a 12-month period, with 80% of these patrons being assessed as either moderately or seriously intoxicated.In a 12-month period, the letters/feedback reports were distributed on four occasions to all 1413 premises as a general deterrence strategy. In addition, the audit and feedback strategy was implemented with the top 8% of premises on three occasions.

Evaluation results (Outcome evaluation)

Over a 3-month period there was a 15% greater reduction in alcohol-related incidents associated with premises that received the feedback/audit approach compared to those that received normal policing.

Alcohol-related crime rates measured over a 6-month baseline period in 2002 were compared with crime rates for the same period in 2003 following the implementation of the adoption strategies. Preliminary results suggest a reduction of up to 22% in the number of intoxicated patrons involved in incidents that followed their reported consumption of alcohol on audited premises.

Evaluation references

Wiggers, J. et al. (2004). Strategies and outcomes in translating alcohol harm reduction research into practice: the Alcohol Linking Program. Drug and Alcohol Review, 23, 355-364.

An abstract for this journal article can be found in the HNT literature section here.

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