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Mapping Location of Alcohol Outlets, Drug Activity and Crime Could Aid Prevention


Mapping the location of alcohol outlets, drug activity and violent crimes could help police prevent violence, a new study suggests.

Researchers at the University of Michigan studied the relationship between violent crimes in Boston drug markets, and the types and densities of alcohol outlets in those areas, MedicalXpress reports. They analyzed data on homicides and aggravated assault incidents, drug arrests and 911 calls, along with 2009 alcohol outlet data from the Massachusetts Alcohol Beverage Control Commission. They also examined census data.

They found areas with the highest levels of violent crime were poorer and had greater numbers of alcohol outlets and higher drug arrest rates.

“Identification of such ‘hot spots’ may help in identifying micro-environments: blocks or intersections whose characteristics facilitate violent behavior. Our study helps identify such micro-environments, an emerging area of criminology research, in Boston,” the authors wrote in the American Journal of Public Health.

4 Responses to this article

  1. Carlos / February 22, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    So far, based on over 260 studies we have not been able to predict dangerousness or even malingering. They are all based on assumption not science. If this study has had a breakthrough, hopefully we will find out when the studies are replicated. There is a lot of illusionary correlation, and when further studies are done we find that the initial variables where not the cause and effect. There is a lot of wishful thinking and conjectures in the clinical field than we can shake a stick at it.

  2. Doug McDowall / February 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    One thing is certain, if all 4 corner businesses in a neighborhood are licensed to sell beer, none of them will serve as an entry-level employer for neighborhood youth. What is the correlation between crime and youth unemployment in our communities? More alcohol outlets = fewer jobs for youth!

  3. Avatar of Ann Del Vecchio
    Ann Del Vecchio / February 20, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    It always surprises me when educated people are unaware of the fact that lots of alcohol density = lots of crime and other nasty of quality of life issues. Even more surprising is that these same folks choose to live in outlet -free neighborhoods although they say it doesn’t make any difference

  4. Michael Regenelli / February 22, 2013 at 9:08 am

    It really does seem obvious, but you do need to do actual research to bring it beyond the realm of anecdote. You can easily see all the liquor stores if you walk through a poor inner city area (assuming it isn’t zoned exclusively for residential use), but you can’t make evidence based generalizations about the correlation between alcohol outlet density and crime until you do a scientifically sound study. What if the study had found that wealthy, low crime neighborhoods had many boutique alcohol outlets and restaurants that sell liquor? What if low crime rural areas had a high per capita liquor store rate? The study was needed to rule those possibilities out and give greater evidential weight to the notion that a high prevalence of liquor stores in an area correlates to high levels of crime and drug use. This can now be further verified if someone did a study comparing violent crime rates in poor areas with high concentrations of alcohol outlets to those in poor areas with few alcohol outlets.

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