• Center for Problem oriented policing

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Summary of Responses to Assaults in and Around Bars

The table below summarizes the responses to assaults in and around bars, the mechanism by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they ought to work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem.

General Requirements
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If...Considerations
1Enlisting community support for addressing the problemEstablishes joint ownership of the problem…there is sufficient public interest in and political support for addressing the problemRequires a high degree of project management to sustain coalitions over time
2Implementing multifaceted, comprehensive strategiesAddresses many of the known risk factors that contribute to assaultsresponses are properly implemented (in the right sequence and strength)Difficult to isolate the effect of specific interventions; requires a high degree of project management
3Getting cooperation and support from bar owners and managersPrevents displacement of the problem; prevents perceptions of unfairness; addresses problems at lower-risk barsthere are mechanisms to enforce agreements, and regulators acknowledge the legitimacy of owners' profit motiveRogue operators can easily undermine cooperative agreements
4Informally monitoring bar policies and practicesIdentifies high risk locations and practices; enforces cooperative agreements; monitors progress and effectivenessparticipating bar owners cooperate and support the oversight system; constructive feedback is offered to participating bar owners, along with potential solutionsLacks the force of law; requires a high degree of project management
5 Formally regulating and enforcing relevant liquor-licensing laws Motivates owners/ managers to adopt and enforce responsible serving policies and practicesdone in conjunction with more cooperative and voluntary efforts, and enforcement is consistent, routine, and perceived to be fairLabor-intensive and costly; increases rates of detected and reported offenses
Reducing Alcohol Consumption
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If...Considerations
6 Establishing responsible-beverage-service programs Addresses a range of risk factors, especially reducing drunkenness levelsservers, managers, and owners are provided with concrete examples of responsible practices; combined with sanctions and enforcementEvidence of effectiveness is mixed; requires enforcement to be taken seriously; costly to establish
6a Monitoring drinking to prevent drunkenness Reduces drunkenness levelsservers know how to detect intoxication, they have sufficient incentives to stop serving, and there is adequate opportunity to monitor patronsRefusing service to intoxicated patrons can instigate aggression; difficult to monitor drinking in large bars
6b Providing reduced-alcohol or nonalcoholic beverages Reduces drunkenness levelspatrons will drink reduced- or nonalcoholic beveragesSome bar owners may be reluctant to stock reduced-or non-alcoholic beverages, believing they are less profitable
6c Prohibiting underage drinking Prevents drunkenness of vulnerable populationjurisdiction has identification cards that are difficult to falsifyEasy to provide false proof of age in some jurisdictions
6d Providing reduced-alcohol or nonalcoholic beverages Reduces drunkenness levelspatrons will drink reduced- or nonalcoholic beveragesSome bar owners may be reluctant to stock reduced-or non-alcoholic beverages, believing they are less profitable
6e Requiring or encouraging food service with alcohol serviceReduces drunkenness levels; attracts a more diverse, less aggressive clientele; creates a calmer atmospherepatrons will buy and eat food, and food service is adequate so as not to create additional frustration and conflictIncreases costs to licensees, but does not necessarily reduce profitability
6f Discouraging alcohol price discounts Reduces volume of consumptionall bars are prohibited from discounting pricesEasily undermined by the pressures of business competition; potential legal restrictions to price agreements
7 Establishing and enforcing server liability laws Provides incentives for servers to control excessive consumptionthere is sufficient community support for liability laws, and laws are enforced adequatelyDifficult to establish server's knowledge of drunkenness; judgments are rare
8 Reducing the concentration and/or number of bars Reduces barhopping; reduces the potential for conflicts at closing timethe concentration and/ or number of bars is highNot conclusively proven effective at reducing violence levels
Making Bars Safer
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If...Considerations
9 Training staff to handle patrons nonviolently Reduces levels of aggression; encourages staff to intervene before assaults occurthere are high- quality training programs available; skill development is emphasized; real-world scenarios are usedIncreases costs to either licensees or local government to administer training; training is often of poor quality
10 Establishing adequate transportation Reduces numbers of drunken people on streets after closing hours; reduces competition for transportationthe transportation infrastructure is adequate to the demandMay increase costs to local government
11 Relaxing or staggering bar closing times Reduces the concentration of drunken people on streets after closing hoursthere are multiple bars in the area, with large crowdsRequires legislation to authorize; seems counterintuitive and therefore easily opposed
12 Controlling bar entrances, exits, and immediate surroundings Reduces the entry of underage, drunken, and belligerent patrons; reduces barhopping; controls conflict at key locationsthe security staff is properly trained and nonaggressive, and patrons often get into conflicts in the alleys and parking lots outside barsMay increase short-term costs to licensees (for security staff, surveillance cameras, lighting)
13 Maintaining an attractive, comfortable, entertaining atmosphere in bars Reduces the frustration and boredom that can precipitate aggressionbar owners are willing to invest in maintenance and entertainmentIncreases short-term costs to licensees
14 Establishing and enforcing clear rules of conduct for bar patrons Reduces the potential for conflicts among patrons; promotes a calmer atmospherebar owners have sufficient incentives to promote peaceful and legal conductMay run counter to patrons' expectations and desires
15 Reducing potential weapons and other sources of injury Reduces the likelihood and/or severity of injurybar owners know where to buy safer materialsMay increase short-term costs to licensees
16 Communicating about incidents as they occur Permits early intervention in potentially violentall local bars participate; police are includedNeed to distinguish between incidents that require police response and those that do not
17 Banning known troublemakers from bars Removes high-risk offenders from situations where altercations are likelypolice and bar management cooperate to identify banned patrons, and enforce the terms of the banishmentLegal restrictions; may be difficult to ensure compliance from bar owners if regular customers are banned
Responses With Limited Effectiveness
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If...Considerations
18 Using extra police patrols in and around bars Intended to deter assaults and allow police to intervene in disputes Little evidence in the research that extra police presence is effective or efficient
19 Marketing responsible consumption and service practices Intended to heighten general awareness of the problem and discourage excessive consumption Excessive-consumption- warning campaigns do not appear effective; irresponsible marketing can be used to identify high-risk bars
20 Prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol Reduces consumption Difficult to obtain widespread public support; reduces the positive effects of social drinking; creates illegal and potentially violent black markets
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