Alcohol Licensing Policies and Alcohol-Related Crimes

Heavy drinking can add to social problems. These include the disruption of public order, violence, and sexual crimes. Can local alcohol licensing policies reduce alcohol-related crimes?

The Study

Researchers studied the impact of local licensing restrictions on the spatial and/or temporal availability of alcohol in England. They grouped each local area according to its licensing policy strength. The groupings for alcohol licensing policies were “passive,” low, medium and high.

The researchers then calculated the rates of reported crimes in each area. These included sexual crimes, violence against a person, and public order crimes attributable to alcohol. The rate of financial fraud was a control crime. So is not attributed to alcohol.

alcohol licensing policiesResearchers adjusted the crime rates for area population size, deprivation, outlet density, and alcohol-related hospital admissions at baseline.

The rate of alcohol-related crimes dropped faster for four years in the areas with strongest policies. But such crimes then increased. So there was no long-term difference in alcohol-related crimes and licensing policies. And there was no change in the the rate of financial fraud over time. It was the non-alcohol control factor.


There was no overall impact of the strength of local alcohol licensing policies on alcohol-related crimes in England.

Resources: Alcohol Licensing Policies

Web Pages

Increased Alcohol Availability and Violent Crime.

Alcohol Availability and Alcohol-Related Harm.

Alcohol Availability Up, Consumption Down.


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Local Govt Assn. Unfinished Business. A State-of-Play Report on Alcohol and the Licensing Act 2003. London: The Assn.

NSW Bur Crime. The Association between Alcohol Outlet Density and Assaults on and Around Licensed Premises. Sydney: The Bur.

__________. The Impact of Restricted Alcohol Availability on Alcohol-Related Violence in Newcastle, NSW.  Sydney: The Bur.

Reid-Howie Assoc. Liquor Licensing and Public Disorder. Edinburgh: Scottish Exec Soc Res, 2003.

Rowan, K. Alcohol Availability and Violent Crime. Thesis, U South FL.

Trifonoff, A. Liquor Licensing Legislation in Australia.
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De Vocht, F., et al. Testing the impact of local alcohol licencing policies on reported crime rates in England. J Epi Comm Health, 2016.