The way to address night time alcohol-related crime and violence is to reduce the opening hours for licensed premises, a visiting Australian researcher says.
Associate Professor Peter Miller of Australia's Deakin University presented the findings of two major studies at a research seminar in Auckland.
The research compared six Australian cities over three years and involved talking to more than 11,000 patrons.
"The studies looked at the effectiveness of interventions for reducing alcohol-related offending and injuries,'' Professor Miller said.
"When we looked at the findings from the cities of Newcastle and Geelong, for example, we found the most effective intervention was a reduction in trading hours.''
In Newcastle, where trading hour restrictions and a number of other interventions were imposed on licensed premises, there were significant improvements in alcohol-related injuries and offending, he said.
"Significant reductions in assaults and injuries have been achieved and continue to improve. There were also reductions in behaviours such as `pre-loading'.''
Interventions such as voluntary ID scanners, CCTV and radio networks did not show improvements, Professor Miller said.
Professor Miller said it was timely to share these findings with New Zealand, given the work being done on local alcohol policies here.
"I hope the Australian experience will help you create safer cities and reduce the alcohol-related harms we see late at night.''
He said voluntary systems simply did not work.
Alcohol Healthwatch director Rebecca Williams said that in New Zealand, nearly half of the victims of crime in public places reported the offender was intoxicated.
During weekends up to 75 per cent of injury presentations to emergency departments were alcohol-related, she said.
"Reducing trading hours will reduce this burden, and local alcohol policies provide the perfect opportunity to implement these changes.''
It was important local councils took into account the evidence that was available in formulating their policies, she said.
"To be effective a local alcohol policy must include measures to reduce trading hours and better control for the number and location of liquor outlets.''
In Auckland, council staff have recommended a 4am closing time for bars in the CBD, with bars in the suburbs closing earlier at 1am.
Police want a 3am closing time in the CBD and city-fringe suburbs like Ponsonby, with a one-way door policy from 1am.
In Wellington, the council recently passed changes that would would make bars close at 5am, while off-licences including supermarkets would have to close at 11pm.
The council rejected a proposal for an entertainment precinct, including popular drinking spots Courtenay Place and Cuba St, with earlier closing hours elsewhere.