Reducing alcohol-related violence
We need to tackle the systemic causes of harm
Alcohol-related violence is a significant cause of harm in many countries including Australia. In 2004-05, alcohol-related crime was estimated to cost the Australian community $1.7billion.
While evidence suggests a link between violence and alcohol consumption (particularly high levels of consumption), the relationship is not simple or straightforward. The majority of people who consume alcohol do not become violent offenders.
There is a substantial body of research on “what works” in reducing alcohol-related harm, and a growing body of research on evidence-based responses to alcohol-related violence.
However, politicians tend to ignore the interventions that are based on best-practice and supported by a strong research-base, instead favouring responses designed to appeal to voters but which are less effective – such as criminalising individual drinkers.
Research on alcohol-related harm suggests we should be focusing on the systemic causes of alcohol abuse, including alcohol supply, price and culture. As Victoria Police Chief Commissioner, Simon Overland has said, alcohol-related violence is a problem that “cannot be arrested, put on trial or locked away in a prison”.
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