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Evaluating a natural experiment in alcohol policy: The Licensing Act (2003) and the requirement for attention to implementation

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Research Summary

This study examines the effects of a dramatic change in alcohol licensing policy on the practice of liquor retailing across a metropolitan urban region. The policy was enacted to remove fixed closing times and to install staggered closing times across regions where it potentially would reduce violent crime and disorder. We found great variation in the extent to which the provisions of the policies were installed as intended.

Policy Implications

The findings suggest that prior consideration for how policy interventions will be applied to real-world settings is important to the validity of research evaluations. Understanding and monitoring variation in the implementation of an intervention is a vital prerequisite to the evaluation of outcomes. Without knowledge of the real-world application of an intervention, researchers risk attributing causal effects to a prevention initiative that might have been absent or only partially received.
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Keywords: alcohol regulation; crime prevention; implementation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Candidate at the Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge, UK. 2: Professor of developmental and comparative criminology at the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, UK.

Publication date: February 1, 2010

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