Research Summary An Australian study found that restrictions on pub closing times in Newcastle, New South Wales, reduced assault rates in the city by 37 percent, the Newcastle Herald
Earlier closing times were instituted to combat high rates of alcohol-related violence in the city, according to lead author, Kypros Kypri, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine and public health at the University of Newcastle, Callaghan, New South Wales.
The 14 business-district pubs subject to the restrictions closed at 3 a.m. as of March 2008 (relaxed to 3:30 a.m. in July 2008). Kypri’s team analyzed police records before and after the restrictions were imposed and found that assault rates had fallen from 99 per quarter to 67 per quarter. Assaults after 3 a.m. fell by two-thirds, while assaults between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. fell by more than 25 percent.
According to Kypri, some people believed limiting the restrictions to business-district pubs would simply shift the violence elsewhere. “We tested this displacement hypothesis and found no such effect,” he said.
“One has to wonder what sort of reduction in harm would occur if licensed premises across Australia were to cease serving alcohol at 2 a.m., as is required, for instance, everywhere in California, and how many serious injuries could be prevented,” said Kypri.
The study was published online Sept. 15 in the journal Addiction.