Anna Leask

Anna Leask is a police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

More booze outlets mean more violence in South Auckland - study

Photo / Simon Hendery
Photo / Simon Hendery

A new study has shown that violent crime and motor vehicle accidents are more prevalent in parts of South Auckland that have higher numbers of alcohol outlets than other areas.

And it has recommended that local authorities consider the effects additional alcohol outlets would have on particular communities before granting new licences.

The study, Alcohol outlet density is related to police events and motor vehicle accidents in Manukau City, New Zealand, was funded by the Alcohol Advisory Council and supported by the old Manukau City Council.

Undertaken by academics from the Universities of Waikato and Auckland, the study focused on the Manukau area, using population, crime, crash and liquor licence data to establish whether there was a link between alcohol availability and "negative social outcomes".

The authors simultaneously assessed the relationship between alcohol outlets per capita in the Manukau area and police "events" or motor vehicle accidents.

The study covered 522sq km, with a population of 330,000 and 447 alcohol outlets - 129 off-licences, 130 clubs and bars and 188 restaurants and cafes.

The authors found that areas with additional off-licence outlets were associated with 85.4 more police events and 10.3 more vehicle accidents a year. Those with a higher number of clubs and bars were associated with 34.7 more police events and 0.5 more vehicle accidents a year.

"Off-licence density is significantly positively associated with violent offences, sexual offences, drug and alcohol offences, property abuses, antisocial behaviour, dishonesty offences, traffic offences and motor vehicle accidents, and significantly negatively associated with family violence.

"The density of clubs and bars is significantly positively associated with violent offences, family violence, drug and alcohol offences, property damage, property abuses and antisocial behaviour."

The study was published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Heath.

"The results do not imply causality. However, they are consistent with available theory and imply that local alcohol policy should account for the effects of additional outlets when new licences are granted. A greater availability of alcohol leads to a greater consumption of alcohol, which in turn leads to negative social outcomes."

Manurewa Local Board chairwoman Angela Dalton said alcohol was oversupplied in South Auckland.

"It's a major concern for us. It's too easy to get alcohol when it's at the corner store in every suburb."

Under the Alcohol Reform Bill, councils will be able to establish local alcohol policies to set their own rules on the number, location and hours of licensed premises.

Louisa Wall, Labour MP for the Manurewa electorate, wants to see liquor outlets banned in suburban areas.

"We should have designated areas like business areas where people can go and buy alcohol," she said. "It should not be a product that is normalised in the suburbs.

"We know alcohol outlet density is a problem and violence in the community is compounded because of that density. We know what the problems are, we have to have the courage to do something about it. We've got to do as much as we can - this is something we can control. When is enough enough?"

Manukau City

447 alcohol outlets - 129 off-licences, 130 clubs and bars and 188 restaurants and cafes

Areas with additional off-licence outlets were associated with:

85.4 more police events

10.3 more vehicle accidents per year.

Areas with a higher number of clubs and bars were associated with:

34.7 more police events

0.5 more vehicle accidents a year.

- NZ Herald

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