advocating to reduce alcohol harm

Alcohol and crime

Alcohol plays a key role in crimes such as public order offences, assault and murder, as well as rape and sexual assault.

This is in addition to offences that are obviously alcohol-related, such as drink-driving. The type and severity of alcohol-related offences are wide-ranging, from inconvenience and disturbance to violent assault and manslaughter.

  • Links between alcohol and crime are well established. Intoxication of both perpetrator and victims has been noted in a high percentage of instances of homicide and sexual assault
  • 76% of all rape defendants had been drinking at the time of the alleged offence
  • Alcohol has been identified as a contributory factor in 97% of public order offenses as recorded under the Garda PULSE system.
  • One in eleven, or approximately 318,000 of the full adult population, said that they or a family member were assaulted by someone under the influence of alcohol in the past year
  • Almost half of the perpetrators of homicide were intoxicated when the crime was committed
  • In December 2015, Gardaí said that the month of December sees assaults rise by almost a third more than in January or February and there is a clear correlation between assaults and incidents of excessive alcohol consumption.

The Alcohol Action Ireland commissioned Where’s The Harm? survey asked about alcohol-related harm in communities and its effects on people and property. It found that in the past 12 months, because of someone’s drinking:

  • 45% said they had gone out of their way to avoid drunk people or places where drinkers are known to hang out
  • 21% said they had been kept awake at night or disturbed
  • 18% said they had experienced trouble or noise because of drinkers at a licensed venue
  • 18% said they felt unsafe while waiting for or using public transport
  • 12% said they had been verbally abused because of someone else’s drinking
  • 12% said they had been involved in a serious argument because of someone else’s drinking
  • 8% said they had been threatened because of someone else’s drinking

Alcohol and youth crime

  • Alcohol offences are the main offence for which children are referred to the Garda Youth Diversion Programme, accounting for almost a fifth of youth crimes. In addition, many crimes are committed by young people when drinking, bringing the proportion of crimes where alcohol is a factor up to half  all of all youth crimes
  • 85% of Garda Youth Diversion Programmes who took part in a 2009 study named alcohol-related crime as first on the list of offences committed in their area. The offences committed when drinking were mainly public order and criminal damage, and to a lesser degree minor assault and trespass
  • Alcohol-related crime spikes at weekends, in the summer months and at calendar events, e.g., Hallowe’en

For more on the relationship between Alcohol and Crime in Ireland, see Alcohol and Crime: Getting The Facts.