After a keen observation, two Indiana University professors have found that the more alcohol sales sites in a neighbourhood, the more violence occur in premises surrounding it.
Tony Grubesic, from department of geography, and William Pridemore, from department of criminal justice, used crime statistics and alcohol outlet licensing data from Cincinnati, Ohio, to examine the spatial relationship between alcohol outlet density and assault density.
They found that off-premise outlets appeared to be responsible for about one in four simple assaults and one in three aggravated assaults in 302 geographic block groups that encompassed all of Cincinnati.
Crime statistics from January through June 2008 provided by the Cincinnati Police Department found 2,298 simple assaults and another 479 serious assaults had occurred in the study area during that time.
The researchers, using data from the Ohio Division of Liquor Control for Hamilton County, Ohio, then used geocoding techniques to spatially aggregate the city's 683 unique alcohol sales outlets into those block groups.
The arithmetic mean, or average, density of assaults was 69 per square mile, while the average density of alcohol outlets per square mile was 20.
Pridemore said: "A higher density of alcohol sales outlets in an area means closer proximity and easier availability to an intoxicating substance for residents.
"Perhaps just as importantly, alcohol outlets provide a greater number of potentially deviant places. Convenience stores licensed to sell alcohol may be especially troublesome in this regard, as they often serve not only as sources of alcohol but also as local gathering places with little formal social control."
Grubesic added: ""We could expect a reduction of about one-quarter in simple assaults and nearly one-third in aggravated assaults in our sample of Cincinnati block groups were alcohol outlets removed entirely. These represent substantial reductions and clearly reveal the impact of alcohol outlet density on assault density in our sample."
Pridemore concluded: "We believe that alcohol outlets, as a source of community-level variation in levels of interpersonal violence, deserve greater attention in the criminological literature.
"The nature of our findings should encourage further investigation of the nature of the ecological association between alcohol, violence and other negative outcomes within communities."
The study titled "Using Geographic Information Systems and Spatial Analysis to Better Understand Patterns and Causes of Violence" was presented at annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Diego, Calif.