Much attention has focused on the management and containment of
violence in and around licensed premises (such as bars and other
drinking venues) over the past decade. This report by ICAP examines
some of the prevention strategies used to combat this violence,
as well as some of the theories that underpin them.
The report does not discuss the contextual issues of density of
retail outlets and permitted hours and days for beverage sales.
The report states that substantial bodies of literature provide
evidence both supporting and negating positive associations. Therefore,
the focus of the report is on the responsible operations of licensed
premises, irrespective of the contextual situation within which
they are operating.
It should be noted that that the vast majority of the research
literature in this area relates to Anglo-Saxon drinking cultures,
however there may be lessons relevant to other cultures.
The research into violence discussed in this paper is primarily
concerned with brawlsand bar fights, especially when management
practices and responsibilities can make a difference.
Recent research has identified 5 groupings of possible explanations
for violence related to alcohol consumption and violence on licensed
premises. These include: the risk taking effects of alcohol; the
cognitive impairment due to alcohol; hyper-emotional effects of
alcohol; the macho subculture associated with drinking; and
the permissive environment that some licensed premises provide.
Intervention strategies appear to be more successful when one
or more of these factors are addressed. One particular predictor
of harm has been identified as bar staff continuing to serve obviously
intoxicated patrons, therefore server intervention programs have
been developed as a means of preventing harm and relating positively
to customers. These programs have been implemented in both the
public and private sectors in a number of different countries
from New Zealand, Malta and Netherlands to the United Kingdom.
The programs aim to educate servers and door staff about the legal
and social responsibilities of serving alcohol, as well as to
intervene effectively when problems occur. The programs very from
country to country for example SIPS ( Server Intervention Programme
Scotland) focuses on educating servers about liability issues,
whereas TIP (Training in Intervention Procedures for Servers of
Alcohol) USA emphasizes the importance of server judgement in
reducing drunk driving. These programs are often funded by alcohol
producers for example Diago supports Bartender Project in Brazil
and Coors USA supports Being an Alcohol Responsible Server (BARS).
Such approaches have reported moderate success, especially when
combined with enforcement.
Another important method of reducing violence involving alcohol
has been responsible managements practices. Research has shown
that violent episodes were strongly correlated with several factors,
including the % of drunken patrons,quality of ventilation, level
of cleanliness, patron mix, group sizes, consumption levels and
the time spent drinking.
A recent Australian study concluded that the level of violence on licensed premises could be substantially reduced by changes to management and regulation, the key areas being alcohol supply policy, crowd
control policy, service efficiency and inter-community relationships.
Also altered design or increased server intervention have influenced
One method of reducing the damage caused by violence in and around
licensed premises involves the removal of possible harm-causing
objects,such as broken bottles or glass. A more durable glass,
6 times stronger than a conventional beer glass has been developed
which when broken disintegrates into small pieces rather than
larger chunks likely to cause injury and several brewers have
begun marketing plastic beer bottles. Another innovation , tentatively
called smart beermat aims to prevent violence against women
in bars. By dabbing a specially designed coaster with the drink
they are consuming, women can test their drink for various sleep-inducing
The availability of food has also been associated with a reduced
risk of aggression and many establishments have also taken measures
to offer a wider selection of non-alcoholic beverages, including
soda, juice and coffee. Intoxication levels have also been shown
to decrease with certain types of entertainment such as dancing,
playing games and listening to specific kinds of live music. However,
aggressive music and entertainment such as wrestling can actually
induce aggressive behaviour, along with unregulated betting on
bar games, such a pool.
A substantial body of research exists that show enforcement strategies
are highly effective methods of reducing problems in and around
licensed premises The TASC Project in Cardiff City Wales pioneered
one such partnership between police forces and licensed premises.
Police established a more prominent presence in city centres and
trained bar staff to deal with potentially violent situations.
A media campaign was also launched. Else where in the UK, police
intervention to reduce underage drinking consisted of warning
letters and visits to vendors known to sell alcohol to underage
patrons was not successful.
The development of community interventions programs or accords,
marks another approach to the reduction of violence in public
drinking places. Accords are comprehensive, community based partnerships
that work with those most affected by on-license violence, citizens
living close to the drinking venue itself. The programs combine
2 elements -education (changing behaviour through increased awareness)
and the environment (changing social and economic systems). The
implementation of a successful partnership involves several steps.
Firstly rules and codes of practice must be developed. Secondly,
conscience must be stimulated by encouraging managers to regard
themselves as responsible businessmen and thirdly availability
of alcohol must be controlled through server intervention. Compliance
with agreed codes of practice must be facilitated by creating
a regulatory environment in which adherence is finically worth
while for licensees. Police and local authorities typically coordinate
accords by enlisting the co-operation of commercial operators
of drinking establishments and then establishing the common aims
and principles of the accord.
The report presents an overview of some of the common strategies
that are used to reduce violence in and around licensed premises.It
reviews the elements condusive to safe environments, such as awareness
of accepted serving practices, attention to physical design of
an establishment, as well as the proper training of servers and
door staff. It also illustrated the importance of broad-based