Alcohol fuelled violence is one of the most pressing social challenges of our time. Tackling it will require a multi agency response that reaches far beyond the remit of the police. We can not arrest our way out of this problem.
Alcohol-related crime is estimated to cost Australia $1.7billion a year, with $750m alone spent on policing. In New Zealand it is estimated to cost $1.1 billion for crime due to alcohol and drug use. This includes costs to the victims of crime, the use of police resources, court related costs and prison. In New Zealand, $172.2m is spent on policing alcohol and drug related offending.
In New Zealand, a third of all police recorded offences were committed where the offender had consumed alcohol prior to committing the offence. A substantial proportion of assaults are alcohol-related with a significant number of hospitalisations each year associated with these assaults. In Australia, forty percent of people detained by police attribute their offence to alcohol consumption.
It’s not enough for police to clean up after the problem; changing things for the better will require the public attitude to change AND a joined up response by many.
Our nightspots have to change, starting with more restricted liquor trading hours, reduction in the number of licensed premises, provision of better and more secure public transport, and a switch from glass to plastic containers.
Alcohol availability is an issue. Combine that with venues designed to encourage more rapid drinking and are also open late and you have people on the streets drunk and sometimes aggressive. This places them and others at risk.
This is a major issue in both Australia and New Zealand and together we need to determine solutions. But importantly it is also about people taking responsibility for their own actions and realising the harm they are doing to themselves and society.
New Zealand statistics
Alcohol impacts on many aspects of policing, including violent offending in the city and town centres of New Zealand, homicides, drink driving, family violence incidents, accommodating intoxicated people in police cells and incidents involving or offending involving young people.
In New Zealand the total crime cost due to harmful alcohol and drug use is estimated at $1.1 billion. This includes costs to the victims of crime, the use of police resources, court related costs and prison.
The total social cost of harmful alcohol use alone for the year 05/06 was estimated at $4.4 billion.
The cost to the Justice sector was $716 million with at least $172.2 million of those cost directly on police
It is estimated that police spent $306.3m or 32% of the police budget on Alcohol and drug related offending / issues in 05/06. On alcohol only, this equalled 172.2m, 18 % of the police budget.
At least a third of all police recorded offences in 07/08 were committed where the offender had consumed alcohol prior to committing the offence.
At least a third of recorded violence offences and family violence incidents in 07/08 were committed where the offender had consumed alcohol prior to committing the offence.
With regards to serious offending, such as homicides and incidents where force was used by police, approximately half of the alleged offenders or victims were affected by alcohol.
Alcohol causes more than 1000 deaths per year - half of those are due to chronic alcohol-related diseases, especially cancer, and half due to injuries. (source as above)
Alcohol is a factor in 70,000 physical and sexual assaults a year.
On an average day:
62 individuals are either driven home or detained in police custody due to their state of intoxication.
342 offences occur where police note alcohol was involved in the offending including:
30 offences for breach of a councils liquor ban
100 offences for drink driving
Approximately 5,923 compulsory breath tests and 2743 mobile breath tests are undertaken
41 licensed premises are visited to monitor compliance with the Sale of Liquor Act.
Police data shows:)
There were 11,081 breaches for liquor ban offences;
15,041 compliance checks of licensed premises were undertaken;
1,547 licensed premises were visited as part of a controlled purchase operation;
2939 liquor infringement notices were given to people under 18 years for liquor offences in public places and licensed premises
607 applications were made by police to the Liquor licencing Authority for the cancellation / suspension of liquor licences or manager certificates
36542 drink driving offences were detected
Over 3 million mobile and compulsory breath tests were undertaken by police