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Tackling alcohol related violence in city centres: effect of emergency medicine and police intervention
  1. A L Warburton1,
  2. J P Shepherd2
  1. 1Centre for Womens’ Mental Health Research, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  2. 2Violence Research Group, Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor J P Shepherd
 Dental School, Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff University, Health Park, Cardiff, CF14 4XY, UK; shepherdjp{at}


Objectives: To identify correlates of alcohol related assault injury in the city centre of a European capital city, with particular reference to emergency department (ED) and police interventions, and number and capacity of licensed premises.

Methods: Assaults resulting in ED treatment were studied using a longitudinal controlled intervention, a three stage design during a three year period of rapid expansion in the night-time economy, when ED initiated targeted police interventions were delivered. A controlled ED intervention targeted at high risk night-clubs was carried out. Main outcome measure was ED treatment after assault in licensed premises and the street.

Results: Targeted police intervention was associated with substantial reductions in assaults in licensed premises but unexpected increases in street assault were also observed (34% overall: 105% in the principal entertainment thoroughfare). Combined police/ED intervention was associated with a significantly greater reduction compared with police intervention alone (OR = 0.61, 95% CI 0.40 to 0.91). Street assault correlated significantly with numbers and capacity of premises. Risk of assault was 50% greater in and around licensed premises in the city centre compared with those in the suburbs, although dispersion of violence to more licensed premises was not observed.

Conclusions: Marked decreases in licensed premises assaults resulting from targeted policing were enhanced by the intervention of ED and maxillofacial consultants. Capacity of licensed premises was a major predictor of assaults in the city centre street in which they are clustered. City centre assault injury prevention can be achieved through police/ED interventions targeted at high risk licensed premises, which should also target the streets around which these premises are clustered.

  • assault
  • alcohol
  • targeted policing
  • emergency department

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  • * Note the total number of premises refers to all premises that were included in the study during the study period. They may differ from numbers reported during the individual study periods.

  • * Police assumed that illicit drug carrying patrons would contribute disproportionately to violence.

  • Wales Office of Research and Development (WORD) grant no. R/98/037.

  • Competing interests: none declared