By Andrew Starke
The NSW State Government crackdown on pubs and clubs instigated after March 2008 has resulted in a large reduction in the number of assaults on licensed premises, according to new research.
The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) also found that assaults were down across the board between midnight and 5am since the restrictions took effect.
The Bureau examined trends in assaults occurring in the early hours of the morning from January 1, 2004 and December 31, 2010. Assaults on all premises types were examined.
BOCSAR found that in the period between January 2004 and March 2008, assaults on all premises types were increasing by an average of 4.8 extra recorded assaults each month.
Since March 2008, this underlying upward trend was reversed by an average decline of 10.4 assaults each month.
Assaults on licensed premises have been falling at the rate of 2.4 per month since March 2008.
An underlying upward trend of 2.4 assaults per month was reversed in outdoor/public places by an average decline of 4.8 assaults per month since March 2008.
Commenting on the findings, the Director of the Bureau, Dr Don Weatherburn, said that it was encouraging to see that the restrictions on violent pubs and clubs were having a positive spill-over effect on assaults in outdoor/public places.
“This is important because a big percentage of alcohol-related assaults occur within 20 metres of licensed premises,” he said.
Weatherburn also cautioned that the downward trend in assaults on licensed premises may now be slowing and that a continuation of current enforcement practices may be necessary if further reductions in alcohol-related assault are to be obtained.
While welcoming the drop in assaults, AHA (NSW) CEO Sally Fielke said no research would be able to give a reliable indication of the cause of these incidents until drug use was also taken into account.
“It’s pleasing to see assaults in and around licensed premises continuing to fall, however, we are alarmed to see yet again increases in drug statistics,” she told TheShout.
“It is frustrating that the focus is solely on alcohol when clearly drugs are part of the problem.
“In order to genuinely address the issue of anti-social behaviour in the community, we need to tailor solutions that acknowledge the prevalence of drugs.”
She added that the role of licensees and liquor accords should also be recognised.
“This (reduced assaults) is due in no small part to the proactive measures taken by many licensed venues predominantly through their local liquor accords,” Fielke said.
“We’re pleased that there are now very few venues subjected to the Governments tough restrictions and that voluntary initiatives, education and the personal responsibility message are starting to get through.”
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