By Scott Leach, AHA National and NSW President

Here’s an interesting fact you won’t have read about recently.

After publicans in Newtown voluntarily came up with and adopted a raft of measures in September 2015, incidents of non-domestic assault in Newtown have fallen by 10.6 per cent.

AHA's National and NSW President Scott Leach

During the same trial period – again thanks to these measures – incidents of non-domestic assault occurring in Newtown’s licensed premises fell by an astonishing 51.8 per cent – or more than halved.


You should be given the latest release of yet another lot of figures on the Kings Cross/Sydney CBD lockouts by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR).

In that set of figures BOCSAR argued assaults in a range of areas surrounding the lockout zone – grouped together and called the “distal displacement area” (but more commonly known to you and me as Newtown, Double Bay, Bondi and Coogee) had gone up about 17 per cent since the lockouts came into effect.

All of the geographically different entertainment precincts were lumped in together – individual breakdowns for the suburbs were not included.

The success of the publicans of Newtown, the police of Newtown and the community of Newtown over more than a year was ignored – it was as if it didn’t even happen as the BOCSAR figures were quoted verbatim in the press, on radio and on TV.

The success of the Newtown community was lost in the mix.

Now, as a proud Erskineville publican who works day and night in two local venues in that widespread “distal displacement area,” I have to speak up on behalf of my fellow publicans and the wider community and congratulate them for this success. Particularly after a very successful Mardi Gras which saw thousands through venues night after night with no serious incidents.

Over the last two years I have watched as local licensed premises in this area have worked hard with police and their community to deal with the extra numbers of people on our streets after the former Premier (actually two former Premiers ago now) introduced the lockout measures in early 2014.

I am proud to say I am part of a group of hoteliers who, through the Newtown Liquor Accord and with the backing of the community, helped bring in voluntary measures in September 2015 to keep our community safe.

This unique, successful voluntary system – which was also strangely ignored in the recent lockouts review – is based on common-sense measures:

  • No new patrons admitted to venues after 3.00am (pass out system applies)
  • Restrictions of certain drink types (including no shots) after 12.00am
  • Cease service of alcohol 30 minutes prior to close
  • Development of a code of conduct for patrons promoting respect and tolerance
  • Adoption of NSW Police Force Crime Scene Preservation Guidelines
  • After 12.00am a staff member available trained to access/view CCTV footage on police request.

The results speak for themselves.

Let me repeat, according to BOCSAR’s own figures, after the voluntary adoption of the Newtown Liquor Accord measures in September 2015, incidents of non-domestic assault in Newtown fell by 10.6 per cent.

During the same trial period, incidents of non-domestic assault occurring on Newtown’s licensed premises fell by an astonishing 51.8 per cent.

I certainly didn’t see that anywhere in the BOCSAR release – or on the news

Instead, specific data was largely ignored in favour of a claim that non- domestic assaults in the “distal displacement area” area (i.e Newtown) were up 16.7 per cent.

There was also apparently a 12 per cent increase in areas directly adjacent to the lockout precinct like Ultimo and Surry Hills (once again lumped in together).

Surprise, surprise – assaults inside the Kings Cross lockout precinct (now largely a ghost town at night with foot traffic down more than 80 per cent) was down 49 per cent over the same period. In the CBD the drop was a more modest 13 per cent.

To create a perception that violence in Newtown is on the rise is disingenuous to say the least.

I am left wondering why BOCSAR gave edited information out that only talked about an increase in assaults in different suburbs including Newtown, when there are actual figures showing assaults in Newtown have actually fallen in that period.

We all know statistics can be used for all kinds of purposes but the insult to all the good work of stakeholders, publicans, police and the wider community in Newtown cannot be swept under the carpet.

Instead of putting out figures lumping suburbs in together to suit a particular agenda, the people and businesses of Newtown should be congratulated for voluntarily coming together and devising their own local solutions to local problems.

In finishing, there is a common phrase: “There are three kinds of lies; lies, damned lies and statistics” – a saying popularised by author Mark Twain, who rightly or wrongly, attributed it to British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.

That phrase certainly comes to mind at moments like this. 

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The Shout Team

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

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