Alcohol-fuelled violence legislation leads to increased preloading — study

Queensland’s alcohol legislation needs revision for it to be effective.

Researchers from Griffith University (Associate Professor Grant Devilly), Queensland University of Technology (Prof David Kavanagh) and the University of Queensland (Prof Leanne Hides) conducted three studies from 2014 to 2017 on the blood alcohol readings of patrons as they entered and exited night-time entertainment districts (NEDs) in South East Queensland. The studies have been published in PLOS ONE.

The researchers also interviewed patrons on how the new laws would affect their drinking behaviour and collected crime statistics and data on people leaving entertainment districts.

“Study results were consistent with our predictions that following the introduction of the legislation, patrons increased their alcohol preloading and entered NEDs later,” says Associate Professor Devilly.

“People were substantially more inebriated as they entered the NEDs after the legislative change.”

Professor Devilly from Griffith’s School of Applied Psychology and Griffith Criminology Institute said there was also a noticeable reduction in the number of people entering NEDs with a zero alcohol reading.

“Exit blood alcohol readings were less consistent but showed some evidence of an increase. Crime statistics and patrons’ self-reported experiences of violence did not change.”

The researchers found that while there were generally more people congregating on the streets of the larger NEDs following the legislation, there was no change in the level of assaults.

“This is the first study to collect extensive data on blood alcohol levels, illicit substance use and assaultsas people enter and exit nightclub entertainment districts, both before and after the introduction of this kind of legislation.”

Associate Professor Devilly says any changes to legislation should encourage people to come out into the entertainment districts earlier to reduce alcohol preloading and encourage alcohol consumption in a controlled environment, particularly in establishments that also provide food.

A greater understanding of high blood alcohol levels and the risks they pose is also needed. “At the moment, many people just focus on its effects on driving–in fact, the potential risk is much broader.”

“Interventions to address the alcohol-related problems in the city’s entertainment districts need to both increase the community’s understanding of alcohol’s effects and take preloading into account. If these steps were added to Queensland’s approach, the impact on alcohol misuse and related violence is likely to be much greater.”

The study has been published in the journal PLOS One.