19 december 2011

Prohibiting public drinking in urban public spaces: A review of the evidence

Aims: The purpose of this article is to review community-based evaluations of street drinking bans, with a view to understanding the effectiveness of these laws in reducing alcohol-related harm and benefiting the community. Methods: Sixteen evaluations across 13 locations (in the UK, New Zealand and Australia) were identified. Nine themes were drawn out of the content and thematic analysis.

Findings: Street drinking bans often: (1) negatively impact marginalized groups; (2) result in displacement; (3) improve perceptions of safety; (4) are enforced inconsistently; (5) improve perceptions of environment/amenity; and (6) are supported by police, traders and older people. It is unclear whether street drinking bans: (7) reduce public drinking; (8) reduce alcohol-related crime or harm; and (9) are understood and adhered to.

Conclusions: There is no evidence that street drinking bans reduce alcohol-related harm or benefit the community in the other ways (aside from perceptions of safety and improvement to amenity). However, the methodological limitations of the evaluations reviewed make it difficult to draw conclusions about the effectiveness or otherwise of street drinking bans. More rigorous evaluations of the effectiveness and impacts of street drinking laws need to be undertaken given their continued proliferation across Australia and other Western countries.

Additional Info

  • Authors

    Pennay A;  Room R. 
  • Issue

    Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy / pages 1-11 / 19(2)
  • Published Date

    19 december 2011