How a proposed liquor store or other alcohol outlet might affect crime?

While beer, wine and other alcohol sales outlets are certainly deemed necessary by many, new establishments can aggravate crime when located in the wrong areas.  In this webpage CEDS provides a review of scientifuic research regarding the strong relationship between alcohol sales outlets and crime.  We also offer advice for keeping neighborhoods safe when confronted with a proposed convenience store or other alcohol outlet.  It is our hope that once you’ve preserved the safety of your neighborhood you’ll then urge elected officials to adopt laws guiding new alcohol outlets to locations where benefits can be derived without unduly jeopardizing public safety.

What the science shows about alcohol outlets and crime?

Community & Environmental Defense Services (CEDS) is assisting neighborhoods across the country with concerns regarding the addition of off-sale, alcoholic beverage retail establishments – mostly, convenience stores – proposed for sites near their neighborhoods.  “Off-sale” means a place where alcoholic beverages are purchased for consumption elsewhere. 

CEDS compiled an initial review of scientific studies relevant to the potential effect of convenience stores with off-sale liquor licenses on crime and public health.  The review can be downloaded at: https://ceds.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Crime-Alcohol-Studies.pdf

The author, CEDS president Richard Klein, has no particular expertise in this subject area.  The intent of the review is to provide neighborhood residents with a starting point for a discussion of the science regarding alcohol beverage sales and neighborhood safety.  CEDS did contact the many of the researchers who conducted these studies to confirm we accurately interpreted their findings.

The gist of these studies is that a positive relationship exists between crime as well as adverse health effects and the number of off-sale retail outlets in a given area.  This is particularly true for low-income and other stressed areas.

Hours of operation are also relevant.  The Key Relevant Findings below noted in the review is our interpretation of what the researchers found which may be most applicable to proposed convenience stores near neighborhoods.  Clicking on each blue title will take you to the actual paper.  We also included the abstract so you can judge the accuracy of our key findings. 

These findings indicate that allowing off-sale of alcoholic beverages at a proposed convenience store will increase crime and other adverse health effects, especially if the store is open 24/7.  One study indicated the presence of an off-sale, 24/7 establishment “may attract people at increased risk for involvement with violent crime.”  In another study, researchers concluded: “Children with an alcohol outlet on the route to school were more likely to be offered alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs as well as be exposed to drug selling and seeing people using drugs.”