Disturbing alcohol emergency

Is alcohol unfairly labelled as a scapegoat for violence?

Drinking alcohol in itself does not necessitate violent behaviour; however drinking large quantities lowers an individual’s inhibitions and they can misread social cues which may lead to aggressive behaviour and violence.

Dr Peter Miller highlighted in our recent Prevention Research Quarterly on Alcohol Crime and Disorder that there is a considerable amount of evidence to warrant the conclusion that heavy drinking is a sufficient contributing cause of violence.  While alcohol consumption should never be seen as an excuse for violence, research supports interventions that reduce alcohol consumption as a means to reducing or diminishing violence

According to the National Health and Medical Research Council, public concerns with alcohol consumption include noise, litter, offensive behaviour and vandalism.  In our discussions with police from around the country alcohol is seen as a major issue and we at the Australian Drug Foundation support their upcoming weekend blitz on alcohol related violence and urge everyone to be more responsible.

Over the weekend of 7–9 December, Australian and NZ police will again join together to conduct the cross-jurisdictional initiative, Operation Unite – a blitz on alcohol-related violence.

Operation Unite began in 2009 and is a joint initiative of police commissioners across our two countries. It challenges alcohol misuse, crime, violence and anti-social behaviour through increased community awareness, and attitude and behaviour change. This year’s operation will particularly focus on the availability and accessibility of alcohol.

In addition, we applaud the police across Australia and New Zealand by showing leadership and working together.  We in the alcohol and drug field can learn from this—we often talk about working together but it only occurs in localised initiatives.  Imagine if we pooled our resources to raise awareness of the harms of alcohol.

Police will use Operation Unite to send a clear message that they will not put up with alcohol-related violence, drunken behaviour and other related crime, and that everyone in the community can take action to help create a safer and more responsible drinking culture.

Operation Unite is an opportunity to invite communities to consider their behaviour when out drinking, including the consequences when the night is over – consequences, such as injuries and violence, that police and emergency services deal with too often.

Andrew Scipione, Chief Commissioner NSW police is talking tonight at the Australian Drug Foundation annual oration we are looking forward to hearing on Operation Unite.

To find out more, visit the <Operation Unite Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/OperationUnite>, or the < Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency (ANZPAA) website http://www.anzpaa.org.au/current-initiatives/drugs-and-alcohol