Reducing neighborhood crime: Place management of alcohol outlets

May 25, 2020

Recent research from the Prevention Research Center of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation and the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health suggests that neighborhood crime may be reduced by enhancing "place management" resources in and around off-premise alcohol sales outlets, particularly at small and independent stores.

Place management is monitoring and controlling what people do in and around a place. Poor place management may provide opportunities for crime. Neighborhood crime is sometimes higher where there is higher alcohol outlet density and, often, alcohol outlet managers are held responsible for these problems. However, it's unclear how alcohol stores staff can control neighborhood crime.

To understand how place management operates across a wide range of store and neighborhood types, researchers assessed crime prevention strategies at all 403 off-premise outlets in six contiguous California cities; interviewed managers in 40 of these outlets; and conducted extensive observations in 15 of these 40 outlets.

According to some managers, physical and verbal threats from customers and intoxicated people and insufficient law enforcement response made it difficult for store staff to control behavior of people in and around their stores. Some managers reported relying on their own strong personalities and friendships with neighborhood-based customers to manage problems. Managers reported some ability to assert their authority over interior spaces, but less so over exterior, public spaces.

Further, small and independently-operated stores were the most common type in the study but had fewer resources for place management than large and chain stores.

Says Principal Investigator Dr. Juliet Lee: "In under-regulated alcohol markets like California many stores, and many kinds of stores, can get a license to sell alcohol, but not all retailers have sufficient resources or authority to prevent area crimes. Improved law enforcement and manager training may help reduce crime in areas with high density of alcohol sales outlets."
Source: "Place management in off-premise alcohol outlets: Results of a multi-methods study in a six-city California area," by Lina Ghanem, Juliet P. Lee, Natalie Sumetsky, Anna Pagano, Paul Gruenewald, and Christina Mair. International Journal of Drug Policy 80;

PIRE is an independent, nonprofit organization merging scientific knowledge and proven practice to create solutions that improve the health, safety and well-being of individuals, communities, and nations around the world.

The Prevention Research Center (PRC) of PIRE is one of 16 centers sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), of the National Institutes of Health, and is the only one that specializes in prevention. PRC's focus is on conducting research to better understand the social and physical environments that influence individual behavior that lead to alcohol and drug misuse.

The Resource Link for Community Action provides information and practical guidance to state and community agencies and organizations, policy makers, and members of the public who are interested in combating alcohol and other drug abuse and misuse.




If you would like more information about this topic, please call 831.429.4084 or email

Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to