The findings suggest that a one-hour extension of bar closing hours led to an increase of an average of 20 violent cases at night on weekends per 100,000 people per year. This represents an increase in violence of approximately 16 percent.
The results suggest that the effect occurs both ways. In other words, reducing trading hours by one hour leads to a decrease in violence of the same magnitude as the increase in violence seen if closing hours are increased by one hour.
Lead author Professor Ingeborg Rossow said "These findings echo the results from studies from around the world that you see more violence in cities when you extend trading hours."
The study is based on data from 18 Norwegian cities that expanded or restricted their closing hours by up to two hours in the decade 2000 – 2010. Researchers examined whether these changes affected violence in the city centre on weekend nights. Violence outside the town during the same time window, which was not likely to be affected by changes in closing hours, was used as a control for other factors.
In these 18 cities weekend closing hours were between one and three at night, early by comparison to many cities around the world.
These findings come more than a year after the Norwegian government proposed reducing sales hours for on-premises trading to reduce violence and public nuisance. The proposal was supported by police commissioners but rejected by alcohol businesses and right wing political parties who claimed that reduced sales hours would not reduce violence.
Study co-author Professor Thor Norström said "These findings hold important implications for communities around the world who are struggling to deal with the massive burden of alcohol-related harm. If you want to reduce alcohol-related harm, restricting trading hours of licensed venues seems to be an effective measure."
Full citation: Rossow I. and Norström T. The impact of small changes in bar closing hours on violence: The Norwegian experience from 18 cities. Addiction, 106: doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03643.x
Addiction (www.addictionjournal.org) is a monthly international scientific journal publishing more than 2000 pages every year. Owned by the Society for the Study of Addiction, it has been in continuous publication since 1884.
Addiction is the top journal in the field of substance abuse and is number one in the 2010 ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking in the Substance Abuse Category. Addiction publishes peer-reviewed research reports on alcohol, illicit drugs and tobacco, bringing together research conducted within many different disciplines, as well as editorials and other debate pieces.
Addiction's key findings webpage lists the key scientific advances reported in each monthly issue, article by article, in bite-sized chunks. To access this free service, visit www.addictionjournal.org/keyfindings
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