Alcohol-related violence is a major issue in our country with alcohol believed to play a part in 917,000 violent incidents – nearly half (47%) of all violent crimes committed in 2011/12. (Crime Survey for England and Wales) In the same year 45,000 Penalty Notices for Disorder were issued of which about 80% (36,000) were for being drunk and disorderly.
Alcohol misuse is a feature noted in different types of violence and plays a part in violence in public places, sexual violence and domestic violence. It is estimated that alcohol-related crime and social disorder costs the UK economy as much as £11 billion per year at 2010/11 prices. (Alcohol-use disorders – preventing harmful drinking: costing report. Home Office 2012)
Violence in Public Places
Nearly a quarter of people (24%) in England and Wales believe that drunken and rowdy behaviour poses a significant problem for their local community. They also perceive alcohol to be the third major cause of criminal behaviour in Britain. (Flatley et al, Crime in England and Wales 2009/10) This perception is supported by the fact that half of all alcohol-related violence in England and Wales takes place in or around pubs and clubs. Among the 18 – 24 age group twice as many women and nearly three times as many men, classed as binge-drinkers, have participated in a violent crime or group fight in a public place compared to those classified as regular drinkers.
Alcohol consumption and binge drinking increases the risk of being a victim of violence. Alcohol can decrease your physical capacity, compromise your decision-making and result in you becoming isolated in an unsuitable or unfamiliar setting or location; these factors increase your vulnerability.
Alcohol can also increase the likelihood of you perpetrating violence against someone else. Alcohol can reduce your inhibitions and self-control and lead to increased levels of aggression. Drinking environments can be busy and overcrowded, have poor ventilation and increased levels of anti-social behaviour that may all have a negative impact on your own state of mind. Bottles and glasses also provide and can be used as weapons in this environment.
There is a popular misconception that if someone has committed a sexual crime whilst under the influence of alcohol the alcohol is to blame. This is incorrect. You are responsible for your actions and that includes anything you choose to do whilst under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol lowers inhibitions and when inhibitions are lowered it is easier to act in ways you would not when sober without regretting your actions.
- If you don’t feel comfortable in a situation, then leave
- Be careful about bringing/going home with strangers or people you don’t know very well
- Don’t put yourself in a situation where you need others to take care of you