Is the decrease in assaults at licensed premises being driven by changes in staff reporting rates?


Release date: Monday, 5 August, 2013 Embargo: 9.00am

The fall in assaults on licensed premises is not due to a decline in the willingness of staff or management of licensed premises to report assaults to police.

Between January 2007 and December 2012 the number of assault incidents (including domestic violence related assault) recorded by police as occurring at licensed premises fell from 1,620 to 1,236 (or 23.7 per cent).

It has occasionally been suggested that licensed premises have become less willing to report assaults on their premises to police because they fear losing their liquor license or having restrictions imposed on it.

To test this claim, the Bureau selected a random sample of 1600 assault incident records over the period from January 2008 and December 2011.

Half of these assaults were drawn from the top 100 licensed premises in terms of the number of recorded assaults. The remaining half were drawn from licensed premises outside the top 100 (referred to in the report as 'unranked' premises).

Police incident records contain information on who reported the assault to police. The Bureau recorded the percentage of all assaults at licensed premises which were reported by a staff member of the licensed premises.

No statistically significant change was detected in the percentage of assaults reported by licensed premises staff, either among the top 100 licensed premises or the unranked premises.

Commenting on the findings, the director of the Bureau, Dr Don Weatherburn, said that they provided reassurance that the downward trend in police recorded assaults on licensed premises is genuine and not an artefact of lower rates of reporting.

"It is important to note, however, that our study cannot rule out the possibility that some staff on some licensed premises have become less willing to report assaults to police. All we can say is that the change in behaviour, if it occurred, was too small to be detected."

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn 9231-9190
Copies of the report: