New findings on the links between drinking in the home ahead of a night out, and violent crime, are set to be presented at the inaugural conference of a multi-disciplinary research institute at Plymouth University.
The development of a culture of ‘pre-loading’, where drinkers consume alcohol before entering the ‘night time economy’, and the implications it will have for the forthcoming government strategy to tackle binge drinking, will be discussed at the public launch event for the Institute for Health and Community.
The new body will bring together researchers from across the spectrum of health and social care, and culture and society, with specialisms in fields such as travel and tourism; globalisation; ageing and rural issues; nanotechnologies and dietetics, and innovative methodologies.
Adrian Barton, of the Plymouth Business School, will be taking to the stage to reveal how the crackdown on cheap drinks in licensed premises has helped to create a new model of home-pub-club drinking, which in turn has contributed to the rise in alcohol-related crime and disorder.
Working with Devon and Cornwall Police over the course of six months, the team surveyed nearly 600 people who had been arrested, and for the first time, investigated the pattern of drinking in the hours before their detention.
Two-thirds of the ees aged 17-30 had been drinking in domestic premises before moving into the town, with the majority reporting that they were already drunk by the time they reached it. 83% of those people had purchased beer, wine and spirits from a supermarket, and 40% were later arrested for violence-related offences.
Barton said: “Somewhat paradoxically, it would appear that previous government policy around alcohol, such as the restrictions on discounted drinks promotions and happy hours, and extended licensing hours, could be at the root of some of these problems.
“There is clear demand for cheap early evening drinks, and it is possible that reducing the availability of these in licensed premises has contributed to the rise in ‘pre-loading’. Extended late opening prolongs what we term ‘the drinking event’ and increases the likelihood of excessive drinking and flashpoints.”
Barton said that current government policy was still locked into viewing drinking as operating around a ‘pub-club’ model, and failed to take account of evidence that suggests up to 50% of people drink at home before leaving.
He added: “Although it may seem counter intuitive, it may be that that in order to better control violence in the night time economy, government policy needs to entice people back into the pubs and bars, especially for the crucial early evening period, where they can at least be monitored by staff, and where their drinking patterns will have natural breaks when they move from place-to-place.”
The Institute of Health and Community conference will feature a number of presentations from academics, grouped into the three research centres of Health and Social Care Innovation; Methodological Innovations; and Culture, Community and Society.
Among them will be Julia Morgan’s research on support offered to children who have a parent in prison; Jenny Freeman’s overview of the work being conducted by the Rehabilitation Research Group into health and social care delivery for those with long-term neurological conditions; and Jane Grose’s work on reducing waste and improving recycling initiatives in healthcare.
Gayle Letherby, Director of the Institute, and Professor of Sociology in the School of Social Sciences and Social Work, said: “This is the kind of applied, impact-driven and innovative research that the Institute will look to deliver on some of the critical dilemmas that face our society.
“We will engage with government, civil society and the broader community, opening up debate and encouraging participation by professionals and the public in our research.”
The conference, entitled Shaping Health and Communities, will take place on 6th March, at the Best Western Duke of Cornwall Hotel, Plymouth.