Alcohol Linking Program
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.