Homicide and the Night-Time Economy

Researchers: Professor Stephen Tomsen , Jason Payne
Funding: Criminology Research Council (opens in a new window)
Period: 2011-2013

This project is examining the prevalence, locations and trends in homicide linked to commercial night-time leisure, problematic drinking and drug use. Recent research has focused on levels of violence and crime and its links with public socialising at night. Assaults peak on weekend nights and follow the rhythms of night socialising, in the direct confines of the night-time economy or by indirect relation to it. These crimes include serious confrontational violence in and around licensed premises, and those with a 'spill' on to other after dark locations that include public transport, street and domestic settings.


A group of people at a bar - one is raising their drink for a toast.Professor Stephen Tomsen is the Principal Investigator on this project examining the prevalence, locations and trends in homicide linked to commercial night-time leisure, problematic drinking and drug use. This research is funded by the Australian Criminology Research Council. UWS Criminology graduate Mr Jason Payne is a Project Adviser based within the Australian Institute of Criminology where the Australian National Homicide Database and national monitoring program are located.

‘Recent research has focused on levels of violence and crime and its links with public socialising at night’, explains Professor Tomsen. ‘Assaults peak on weekend nights and follow the rhythms of night socialising, in the direct confines of the night-time economy or by indirect relation to it. These crimes include serious confrontational violence in and around licensed premises, and those with a ‘spill’ on to other after dark locations that include public transport, street and domestic settings. The specific circumstances and trends in relation to night killings and in particular settings with significant drinking and/or drug use, will remain uncertain without deeper study. A thorough study of homicide cases would provide a window into the nature and real levels of night-time violence as well as the apparent success or failure of current policing and crime prevention strategies.’

This project will examine national homicide records with detailed analysis of case files. Information on demographic variables, offender motives and offender-victim interactions will be scrutinised to draw out information about typical fatal scenarios. Comparison of location and neighbourhood incidents with local council restrictions, anti-violence campaigns and police and public security strategies will also be considered to identify high risk scenarios and localities.

Confrontational violence in locations of night-time public drinking and illicit drug use is a phenomenon known internationally. However, the long-term, complex patterns of fatal violence in the Australian context are not yet understood. This project will also shed light on the effectiveness of policing and crime prevention strategies and how they might be more effective in the reduction of many homicides.