24 Hour Licensing
Overseas research on impact of increased hours of trading
The stated aim of the Sale of Liquor Act is:
"...to establish a reasonable system of control over the sale and supply of liquor to the public with the aim of contributing to the reduction of liquor abuse, in so far as that can be achieved by legislative means."
evidence from international research to indicate that allowing
supermarkets or other off-licensed outlets to sell take-away alcohol
24 hours a day will lead to an increase in local alcohol related harm
and other adverse local effects, and is therefore contrary to this
research reviews have concluded that increases in hours and days for
which alcohol is available for sale are consistently related to
increases in levels of problems.
Moreover, small changes in hours of trading have significant
local impacts (Gruenewald & Stockwell 2000; Edwards et al. 1994).
Gruenewald and Stockwell recommend that local policy-makers
take special note of the potential for late night alcohol trading to
affect the local environment from a public health and safety point of
increases in hours of alcohol sales in Michigan, Perth, New South
Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Brisbane, Finland, Sweden and Scotland
resulted in increases in road death and injuries and/or violence
(Smith 1988ab; Peberdy 1991; Baggott 1986).
In Victoria, for example, the change to 10 o’clock closing
resulted in an 11.5% increase in casualty traffic accidents, not just
a shift in the peak in accidents, despite little effect on overall
sales (Smith 1988b).
By the mid
1990s, very late hours of on-licence trading were causing concern in
New South Wales and Queensland, and 24 hour licensing was being cut
back in the Australian Capital Territory, because of increased
intoxication, disorder and violence in the inner cities (Hill 1997).
When 75 Perth hotels, taverns and nightclubs were granted
extended trading permits, they had significant increases in assaults,
as well as assaults, road crashes and drink driving offences
associated with these premises occurring at later hours.
In comparison, premises with normal hours were cited less
frequently (Chikritzhs et al. 1997).
Scotland, relaxation of Scottish licensing hours in 1977 resulted in a
13% increase in alcohol consumption (Baggott 1986).
Before and after surveys showed an increase in drinking by
males aged under 45 (Smith 1988a).
In the late
1980s Edinburgh, as a centre of tourism, granted different late night
opening to licensed premises throughout the city.
An evaluation project documented distress to local residents
and difficulties in policing. A
widespread campaign of opposition led to earlier, uniform closing
times in certain urban zones in 1989.
This resulted in a 30% reduction in drink-related violence and
disorder (Institute of Alcohol Studies 1996).
evaluations of changes in trading hours investigate effects on
aggregate level indicators. The
focus of research and international collaborations has now turned to
measuring impact on drinking patterns and alcohol related harm for
sections of the population, such as young people, heavier drinkers and
minority groups (Holder 2000).
of the 1988 extension of trading hours in Britain showed that the more
heavily people drank, the more likely they were to make use of the
later drinking hours; 60%-88% of men exceeding ‘sensible limits’
reported later night drinking in pubs, compared with just 22% of
sensible drinkers (Goddard 1991).
specifically to bottle stores, a trial closing of Swedish outlets on
Saturday (as well as Sundays) resulted in a 10% decline in arrests for
drunkenness and also declines in domestic disturbances and outdoor and
indoor assaults. Aggregate
sales were not affected. Saturday
closure was made permanent (Olsson and Wikstrom 1984).
Evaluation after one year showed continuing reduced rates of
acute alcohol problems but little effect on overall sales .
A similar eight-month Saturday closing by 10 Finnish state-owned
bottle stores showed similar improvements in local public drunkenness
and violence (Edwards et al. 1994).
takes a different approach to resolving these problems.
High local levels of violent assault in a study of 74 cities in
the Los Angeles area were associated with high accessibility of
take-away alcohol. The
correlation of violence with off-licensed outlets, rather than
on-licences, was stronger for smaller communities (Schribner et al.
1995). California law
already allowed retail trading to 2 am, but following these research
results a moratorium was placed on any new beer and wine off-licences
in 48 out of 58 California counties.
and Canadian jurisdictions have adopted the same strategy, reflecting
research on local crime levels.
[accidental deletion, added verbally at hearing]
California, beer and wine only licences proliferated under very cheap
licensing fees, relative to all-beverage off-licences.
Beer is the beverage most associated with drink-driving in the
US and in Australia, with a particular local association between high
alcohol beer sales and drink-driving (Gruenewald
and Stockwell 2000)
drinkers, especially drinkers on low incomes, show preference for
obtaining their alcohol from outlets that offer lower costs, rather
than for example from licensed restaurants or cafes (Gruenewald et al.
evidence above from Sweden and from Australia is that changes in
trading hours or days has little impact on total sales of alcohol.
The Swedish Saturday closing study reported 60% public support in
surveys, with 89-90% of state liquor store purchasers saying that they
had not felt inconvenienced. The
researchers concluded that routine customers changed their pattern of
regular shopping and it was spontaneous purchases that were being
disrupted (Olssen & Wikstrom 1984).
night purchasers will be people who wish to continue drinking after
running out of alcohol supplies or after leaving on-licensed premises.
These spontaneous purchasers are likely to be the heavier or
binge drinkers most associated with alcohol related harm.