By Andy Young

Submissions to the Callinan Review into the 2014 NSW liquor legislation have revealed a pattern of fears from residents concerned about a new dark side to Sydney.

The now quiet streets of Kings Cross in Sydney

A number of residents revealed that far from making them feel safer the lockout legislation has in fact increased their fears of the city. Where once there was a feeling of safety in numbers, there are now fears because of dark, quiet streets and fewer police patrolling them.

One resident named Jade wrote in her submission: “As a young female I no longer feel safe walking the now deserted Sydney streets at night because absolutely no one is around. If something were to happen to me or my friends, there would be no witnesses and no one to help.”

This was a common theme in submissions to the Review, with Felicity writing: “Personally I felt a lot safer walking the streets of Darlinghurst and Kings Cross at night when there were crowds of people about, venues open and security guards on every door.”

Stephanie wrote: “I used to feel safe walking home in the city and now feel unsafe with how empty and dark it is.”

The fear is not exclusive to women either, one musician named Peter said he has noticed a big difference in the city after he finishes a gig. “I walk the streets at 3am after playing at a club fearing for my well-being as the streets are addled with the shadiest of characters. As the foot traffic through the city decreases, my fear rises. I do not feel safer. An unprovoked attack feels imminent as I have no safety in the crowds around me, a ghost town is not a safe town.”

Referring to a recent trip to Sydney’s CBD and having to leave a club early because it was forced to close, Rachel wrote: “Myself and my female friend got harassed twice while we were walking from the club by men in cars screaming insults at us and one car pulled over and the man tried to aggressively offer us a lift home. The street was practically deserted and that was the first time I felt like we were in real danger in Sydney after a night out. It was terrifying, and I have never had this problem before the laws changed because there were many more people around.

Two Kings Cross residents also made submissions, highlighting their concerns over the drop in the number of people in the area.

Diane wrote: “I have never felt safer in my neighbourhood then walking home from the station late on a Friday or Saturday night with the streets full of young people having a good time. It was the presence of so many people that made me feel much more secure than walking home along the poorly lit suburban street where I grew up. Since the liquor laws have come in, all this has changed – and not in a good way. I arrived home last night at 9pm and the place was like a ghost town. This did not make me feel safe, quite the opposite.”

While Stefanie added: “In 2009, as a young, single female resident [of Kings Cross], I was hardly, if ever, fearful of my neighbourhood. I would often walk and go out at night alone or with friends and frankly the buzz of the area and the number of people around me was a comfort. Since the lockout laws came into effect, I have noticed two distinct changes: A new eerie, empty, silence in the evenings and a general gentrification of every last corner of the Cross. Now when I return to the Cross late at night from work or going out I walk along quiet, dark streets. I note also, that the drugs have not left.”

Former High Court judge Ian Callinan QC is currently reviewing the liquor legislation which was introduced by the New South Wales state government in 2014. The review received more than 1800 submissions and is due to make its recommendations in August this year.

The Shout Team

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

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