News & Insight

One swallow does not make a spring

VIOLENT assaults in Kings Cross and the CBD have fallen by half since the government’s lockout laws were introduced last month.

Police and ambulance officers have also reported huge corresponding drops in the number of bloody attacks in the party precincts.

The Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing has inspected 276 venues in a 33-day period, with one in six bars and clubs slapped with breach notices.

Assistant Commissioner Mark Murdoch said the number of assaults had halved since the O’Farrell government enforced its lockout legislation on February 24 while a NSW Ambulance spokeswoman cited an almost 30 per cent drop in the assault numbers treated by ambulance officers compared to the same period last year.

“Reported assaults have dropped significantly — almost by half,” Mr Murdoch said. “We are now into the fifth weekend of the new regulations and acts of violence and drunkenness are down.”

Under the new laws, all venues in Kings Cross, the CBD and the Rocks must enforce a 1.30am lockout and stop serving drinks after 3am, and bottle shops must close at 10pm.

The lockout was a key part of The Daily Telegraph’s campaign to curb violence in Kings Cross and on George St.

Despite critics’ comments that it would simply move problems with alcohol and violence elsewhere, Mr Murdoch said police had not seen any trend towards people flooding into Surry Hills and Pyrmont when the city and Kings Cross pubs and clubs closed. There has been no statistical increase in assaults in other parts of Sydney.

“We kept a very close eye on that and there have been no spikes in incidents in those (surrounding) areas. It has been very pleasing,” he said.

A NSW Ambulance spokeswoman said the number of assaults from February 24 to March 27 compared to the same period last year was a reduction to 71.5 per cent of the previous amount.

“The response tally for the 2014 period was 98, as compared to 137 for the same period last year,” she said.

Police minister Mike Gallacher said the hardline approach was working.

“The NSW government is delivering on the community’s expectation to crack down on alcohol-related violence. Early indications from police are that the new measures are showing signs of success,” he said.

OLGR executive director Paul Newson said it was too early to make an “informed judgment” on the effectiveness of the new laws after only a month.

Mr Newson said that there had been general issues with venues failing to meet RSA requirements, and that six businesses had been slapped with “strike” offences under the three strikes scheme.

“Licensees have been warned that they will face regulatory action if they fail to comply with the new conditions,” he said. “As well as loss of public reputation, penalties for a breach of the new conditions include potential fines of up to $11,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 12 months as well as strikes under the government’s three strikes disciplinary scheme.”

The OLGR has found no serious breaches of the 3am service bans and only a single breach of the 1.30am lockout when one venue allowed two patrons re-entry to collect personal belongings.

On Friday night, Kings Cross bar Dejavu was ordered to close for 72 hours after two breaches of the liquor laws.

It can re-open tonight from 7pm after OLGR alleged that the nightclub served alcohol to a minor and a heavily intoxicated woman. CCTV cameras at the club were also not in operation.

The state government yesterday announced that police officers would enforce new $500 fines for offensive language and $1100 for drunk and disorderly behaviour after being told to move on.

Earlier this month, St Vincent’s Hospital emergency services director Gordian Fulde said there were fewer people admitted from alcohol-fuelled violence and a significant reduction in the number of coward punch victims.

While violence statistics have plummeted, nightclub and bar industry groups have reported a downturn in trade by up to 30 per cent since the lockouts came into effect.


VIOLENT assaults in Kings Cross and the CBD have fallen by half.
(Daily Telegraph 31st March 2014).


Published on by TKYF.