Evaluating the Impact of Flexible Alcohol Trading Hours on Violence: An Interrupted Time Series Analysis

Humphreys, David K.; Eisner, Manuel P.; Wiebe, Douglas J.
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
Background: On November 24th 2005, the Government of England and Wales removed regulatory restrictions on the times at which licensed premises could sell alcohol. This study tests availability theory by treating the implementation of Licensing Act (2003) as a natural experiment in alcohol policy. Methods: An interrupted time series design was employed to estimate the Act’s immediate and delayed impact on violence in the City of Manchester (Population 464,200). We collected police recorded rates of violence, robbery, and total crime between the 1st of February 2004 and the 31st of December 2007. Events were aggregated by week, yielding a total of 204 observations (95 pre-, and 109 post-intervention). Secondary analysis examined changes in daily patterns of violence. Pre- and post-intervention events were separated into four three-hour segments 18∶00–20∶59, 21∶00–23.59, 00∶00–02∶59, 03∶00–05∶59. Results: Analysis found no evidence that the Licensing Act (2003) affected the overall volume of violence. However, analyses of night-time violence found a gradual and permanent shift of weekend violence into later parts of the night. The results estimated an initial increase of 27.5% between 03∶00 to 06∶00 (ω = 0.2433, 95% CI = 0.06, 0.42), which increased to 36% by the end of the study period (δ = −0.897, 95% CI = −1.02, −0.77). Conclusions: This study found no evidence that a national policy increasing the physical availability of alcohol affected the overall volume of violence. There was, however, evidence suggesting that the policy may be associated with changes to patterns of violence in the early morning (3 a.m. to 6 a.m.).


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