By Ian Neubauer

Licensees and police in Bendigo are at loggerheads over a new licensing accord that prevents patrons from entering or re-entering a licensed venue in the Victorian city after 2:00am.

Victoria Police released a statement on Friday claiming assaults in the Bendigo CBD are down 25 per cent compared to the corresponding period in 2007 as a result of the lockout.   

But Black Swan Hotel licensee, Andreas Bazzani, has alleged police conspired to manipulate statistics on alcohol-related crime to justify the lockout that came into effect on September 27.

“Just before the curfew came in there was a very strong police presence in the streets and they went around arresting people for being drunk who might not have otherwise been arrested to make it look like there was a huge problem before the curfew,” Bazzani said.

Bazzani added that anti-social behaviour in the Bendigo CBD has not waned as problems were caused by people who come into the city already intoxicated on take-away liquor and who, after being denied entry to licensed establishments, become belligerent in public.   

Inspector Paul Newman confirmed Bendigo Police implemented a surge to combat anti-social behaviour in the four weeks leading up to the new licensing accord. But he said Bazzani’s theory was flawed as the recently published statistics related to assaults, not public drunkenness.       

“Some of the licensees have an agenda because they are not happy with the lockout. This is not the first time I have encountered information provided by them that it totally wrong and mischievous,” Newman said. “They don’t know what they’re talking about.”

Newman said 20 alcohol-related assaults had reported in Bendigo’s CBD between September 27 and January 31, compared with about 30 in the same period the year before. He also disputed the allegation that anti-social behaviour in the city had not improved.

“I monitor the area constantly and the comments I am receiving from police stationed there are mostly positive. They are telling me that anti-social behaviour has diminished considerably,” he said.

“The lockout is not a panacea to address these problems. But it is a foundation stone and it is working.”  

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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