Alcohol & Violence

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.

Sexual Assault

alcohol-fact-violence

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 are drinking alcohol you are also more vulnerable and we know that many victims of sexual assault had been drinking prior to the attack.  There is research that suggests that some sexual predators specifically target intoxicated young women due to their vulnerability.  If you can then try to avoid situations where you may be at risk of sexual assault taking place.  Drinking with supportive friends, not leaving your drinks unattended and pre-planning your journey home can all contribute to keeping you safe.
 
Remember:
  • 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

 

Domestic Abuse

alcohol-fact-violence-under-influenceDomestic abuse is any form of:
  • physical
  • emotional
  • sexual
  • financial
mistreatment that takes place within an intimate or family-type relationship. It belongs to a pattern of bullying and controlling behaviour carried out usually by one person against another. Men and women can be either the abuser or the victim. Sometimes it can be a young person in the family who abuses the parents or other family members.
 
It is not uncommon for victims of domestic abuse to report that they have been assaulted on occasions when the abuser has been drinking or is sober. The violence committed by the abuser while drunk is often more severe.  If people find themselves acting aggressively or violently when they drink, the risk of causing a serious accident or injury will be higher and may be followed with legal consequences.  To avoid this, people need to be aware of their choices; they should either cut down their drinking to safe levels or stop altogether.

Alcohol use is never an excuse for any sort of violence