Opportunities for physical assault in the night-time economy in England and Wales, 1981 - 2011/12
2016-02-29T14:17:24Z (GMT) by
Building on a growing body of research linking an opportunity framework to drops in acquisitive crime and most recently, acquisitive violence, the present thesis extends this framework to the downward trajectory of nighttime economy violence in England and Wales, during the phenomenon of the crime drop. Using secondary data analysis of the Crime Survey for England and Wales, the rate of stranger and acquaintance violence within the night-time economy is found to have halved between 1995 and 2011/12; mirroring the dramatic declines experienced by other crime types within England and Wales, and more widely across other westernised countries. Disaggregating this overarching trend by offence and victim characteristics reveals a reduction in alcohol-fuelled, common assaults between young males, occurring in and around the drinking venues of the night-time economy, and during weekends, to be the main driver of the drop. Boden, Fergusson and Horwood (2013) argue that to date there is limited knowledge surrounding the nature of alcohol-related violence. The present research explores the nexus between alcohol and violence through a situational lens. The opportunistic nature of night-time economy violence is identified through offenders’ choice of tools (weapons) and selection of targets, as well as the clustering of violence along certain spatial, temporal, and individual, dimensions. The opportunity structure of night-time economy violence is established using multivariate modelling techniques designed to isolate the role of opportunity in assault-victimisation, and resultant severity, from the personal characteristics of the actors involved. Measures of a ‘risky lifestyle’, characterised by an increase in routine activities that take respondents away from the safety of the home, are found to be the strongest predictors of assault victimisation-risk across every available sweep of the survey. A significant shift in population lifestyle - namely a significant net decline in routine engagement with the drinking venues of the night-time economy, as well as a shift in the gender and age composition of drinking venue patronage - co-varies with the decline in night-time economy violence. However, residual effects of respondents’ socio-demographic characteristics on victimisation-risk, after mediating for differences in lifestyle, presents violent victimisation in the night-time economy as a result of a process by which personal traits interact with criminogenic environments. Personal characteristics, however, are weaker in their prediction of offence severity in the night-time economy. Rather, the present research supports a collection of research identifying the context of violence to be the strongest predictor of violent dispute escalation (Brennan, Moore & Shepherd, 2010; Marcus and Reio, 2002).