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Victim responses to violence : the effect of alcohol context on crime labeling

Brennan, Iain



The labeling of an incident as a crime is an essential precursor to the use of criminal law, but the contextual factors that influence this decision are unknown. One such context that is a frequent setting for violence is the barroom. This study explored how the setting of a violent incident is related to the decision by victims to label it as a crime. It tested the hypothesis that violent incidents that took place in or around a licensed premises were less likely to be regarded as crimes than violence in other settings. The hypothesis was tested using a pooled sample of respondents from successive waves of the British Crime Survey (2002/2003-2010/2011). Logistic regression models controlled for demographic factors, victim behavioral characteristics, and incident-specific factors including the seriousness of the violence. Respondents who were in or around a licensed premises at the time of victimization were less likely to regard that violence as a crime (adjusted odds ratio = 0.48, 95% confidence intervals [CIs] = [0.34, 0.67]) than respondents who were victimized in other locations. Despite a disproportionate amount of violence taking place in barrooms, it appears that the criminal nature of violence in these spaces is discounted by victims. The findings emphasize how context affects victim interpretations of crime and suggest a victim-centered reconceptualization of the “moral holiday” hypothesis of alcohol settings.


Brennan, I. (2016). Victim responses to violence : the effect of alcohol context on crime labeling. Journal of interpersonal violence, 31(6), 1116-1140.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 1, 2014
Online Publication Date Jan 2, 2015
Publication Date 2016-03
Deposit Date Nov 2, 2015
Publicly Available Date Nov 23, 2017
Journal Journal of interpersonal violence
Print ISSN 0886-2605
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 31
Issue 6
Pages 1116-1140
Keywords Violence, Alcohol and drugs, Community violence, Criminology
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Author's accepted manuscript of article published in: Journal of interpersonal violence, 2015
Contract Date Nov 23, 2017


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