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U of M Expert: In Minneapolis neighborhoods, as alcohol sales rise so does the rate of violent crime

photo: vauvau via Flickr

Alcohol and violence seem to find each other, but is there a stronger likelihood of violent crime depending on where alcohol is sold?

In the residential areas of Minneapolis, the answer is yes, according to School of Public Health researchers.

Traci L. Toomey, Ph.D., a professor in the School of Public Health’s Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, has found residential neighborhoods in Minneapolis with higher densities of establishments that sell alcohol are more likely to have higher rates of violent crimes.

Of the neighborhoods in question, those with more on-premise outlets such as bars and restaurants are more likely to see violent crimes than the neighborhoods with off-premise outlets such as liquor stores.

Toomey’s study, “The Association Between Density of Alcohol Establishments and Violent Crime Within Urban Neighborhoods,” is currently available at Early View and will be published in the August 2012 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

“There are numerous studies that show an area with more alcohol establishments is likely to have a higher rate of violent crime,” Toomey said. “But many of these studies do not differentiate between the type of establishments or the type of crimes.”

In this study, Toomey and her colleagues assessed whether the density of alcohol establishments impacted four categories of violent crime:

  • Assault
  • Rape
  • Robbery
  • Total violent crime

The researchers studied whether or not the effects of a higher density of alcohol establishments varied by the type of violent crime and by on-premise establishments versus off-premise establishments.

According to Toomey, results of this study, combined with earlier findings, provide more evidence that community leaders should be cautious about increasing the density of alcohol establishments within their neighborhoods.

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