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Liquor Law Enforcement: Policy and Practice in Australia

NCJ Number
Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy Volume: 9 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2002 Pages: 85-94
Robyn A. Findlay; Mary C. Sheehan; Jeremy Davey; Helen Brodie; Frank Rynne
Date Published
10 pages
This article examines the enforcement of liquor laws by operational police officers in Australia.
The authors note that in Australia, it is against the law to sell liquor to a person under the age of 18 or to an intoxicated person. However, enforcement of this liquor law is patchy at best. This study set out to examine the enforcement of liquor laws by police officers in both rural and urban Australia. The authors surveyed, through the use of mailed questionnaires, 270 rural and 336 urban operational police officers concerning their enforcement behavior and their knowledge of the liquor-licensing law. The authors hypothesized that operational police officers would be more likely to enforce liquor law violations among individual drinkers rather than the vendors or licensees who sold the liquor to the individual in the first place. They further hypothesized that a lack of enforcement among operational police officers was due to poor knowledge of Australia’s liquor laws. Results of chi square analysis indicated that police officers were more likely to direct their enforcement of liquor violations against individual drinkers, rather than against vendors or licensees who violated the law against selling alcohol to a minor or an intoxicated person. This finding is consistent with past research in this area. Further, the authors’ second hypothesis was also supported in that the officers’ knowledge of Australia’s liquor laws directly affected their enforcement of breaches of the law. The authors conclude by stating that improvements in police officer training is crucial to ensuring adequate enforcement of liquor laws. Tables, references


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