BACKGROUND: The late-night accessibility of entertainment precincts is a contributing factor to acute drinking-related harms. Using computer simulation we test the effects of improved public transport (PT) and venue lockouts on verbal aggression, consumption-related harms and transport-related harms among a population of young adults engaging in heavy drinking in Melbourne. METHODS: Using an agent-based model we implemented: a two-hour PT extension/24-hour PT; 1am/3am venue lockouts; and combinations of both. Outcomes determined for outer-urban (OU) and inner-city (IC) residents were: the number of incidents of verbal aggression inside public and private venues; the number of people ejected from public venues for being intoxicated; and the percentage of people experiencing verbal aggression, consumption-related harms and transport-related harms. RESULTS: All-night PT reduced verbal aggression in the model by 21% but displaced some incidents among OU residents from private to public settings. Comparatively, 1am lockouts reduced verbal aggression in the model by 19% but led to IC residents spending more time in private rather than public venues where their consumption-related harms increased. Extending PT by 2h had similar outcomes to 24-hour PT except with fewer incidents of verbal aggression displaced. Although 3am lockouts were inferior to 1am lockouts, when modelled in combination with any extension of PT both policies were similar. CONCLUSIONS: A two-hour extension of PT is likely to be more effective in reducing verbal aggression and consumption-related harms than venue lockouts. Modelling a further extension of PT to 24h had minimal additional benefits but the potential to displace incidents of verbal aggression among OU residents from private to public venues.
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The research reported here was funded by an Australian
Research Council Discovery Project (DP110101720). The authors
gratefully acknowledge the contribution to this work of the
Victorian Operational Infrastructure Support Program. The National
Drug Research Institute is supported by funding from the
Australian Government under the Substance Misuse Prevention
and Service Improvement Grants Fund. NS is the recipient of a
Burnet Institute Jim and Margaret Beever Fellowship, PD is the
recipient of a National Health and Medical Research Council
(NHMRC) Senior Research Fellowship and ML is the recipient of an
NHMRC Early Career Fellowship.