Controlling pre-loaders: Alcohol related violence in an English night time economy
Authors: Barton, A. and Husk, K.
Journal: Drugs and Alcohol Today
Purpose: The aim of this paper is to focus on the impact of alcohol pre-loading on behaviour in the night time economy (NTE). Design/methodology/approach: The project was commissioned by Devon and Cornwall Police. During the course of six months in late 2010/early 2011, 597 arrestees were asked a series of questions relating to their drinking patterns on the evening prior to their arrest. Findings: The research shows that there is a shift from the traditional "pub-club" drinking pattern to a "home-pub-club" pattern where excessive early evening drinking is occurring in the private sphere in the absence of external control. Moreover, pre-loading has become a key aspect in the drinking patterns of many of the NTE population with around 50 per cent of people drinking significant quantities of alcohol prior to entering the NTE. It also demonstrates that those that pre-load self-report higher levels of drinking and thus higher levels of intoxication than those that do not. Research limitations/implications: Findings are constrained by sample bias, as all informants came from the criminal justice system. Social implications: When looking specifically at the relationship between pre-loading and violence, the research showed that there is a relationship between high levels of self-reported intoxication and self-reported feelings of aggression, especially in males. This manifested in the NTE as flash points which seemed to occur at entry points to pubs and clubs. Those pre-loaders that were arrested for violent crimes cite excessive drinking as the significant factor in their behaviour. The research concludes that pre-loading alcohol prior to entering the NTE is a major challenge to those charged with keeping order in and around city centre pubs and clubs. Originality/value: The paper adds to the discourse on alcohol related violence in the night time economy, and the negative consequences of pricing drinkers out of licensed premises. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.