Auditing Alcohol-Related Crime and Disorder: Conceptual and Methodological Issues

John Tierney, University of Durham

ABSTRACT
The 1998 Crime and Disorder Act is the legislative cornerstone of the British Labour government's policies for reducing crime and disorder. A key component of this Act is a requirement for local 'partnerships' to conduct three-yearly audits. Thus to a significant extent the 'shape' of local crime and disorder problems is determined by these partnerships. This paper draws on recent resarch carried out for the Home Office and discusses the key conceptual and methodological issues surrounding attempts to assess the nature and amounts of alcohol-related crime and disorder. The paper argues that although partnerships will find a lack oif 'hard' quantitative data, the response need not be one of defeatism and inertia. There are other forms of crime and disorder that are also impossible to quantify accurately, for instance, domestic violence, racial harassment and white-collar crime. Within an audit culture, the danger is concluding that because something cannot be measured accurately it cannot count as a problem.

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Updated 05/20/2006