Rules of engagement: policing anti-social behaviour and alcohol-related violence in and around licensed premises

15 Jan 2009

Alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour in public spaces is a complex policy problem for Australian governments, which seek a balance between acknowledging the significant contribution made by the liquor industry to Australia’s economy and the harms and costs that are associated with alcohol consumption. The ‘alcohol problem’ is one that goes beyond the capacity of any one organisation to address. This report sees it as a ‘wicked problem’. A ‘wicked problem’ spans a number of policy arenas, is difficult to resolve, and the responsibility for which stretches across several stakeholders with different perspectives on how such a problem should be addressed.

This report provides an overview of the ways in which Australian police services are adapting their systems and developing strategies to prevent and manage alcohol-related violence in and around licensed premises. The report acknowledges the diverse nature of policing across Australian states and territories. It does not attempt to compare and contrast administration or strategy across the various jurisdictions. The report is not an exhaustive study of police activity, rather a first step in identifying the strategies adopted, the boundaries within which police operate and the ‘limits to the possible’. The report demonstrates that the police develop and adapt their strategies in the context of these limits.

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