By Ian Neubauer
A ban on full- and mid-strength beer in Fitzroy Crossing has exacerbated crime, anti-social behaviour and truancy in the town, according to a Western Australian licensee whose businesses have been adversely affected by the ban.
“There are significantly greater numbers of people in the bars in both premises from opening to close… who are not well-versed in [the etiquette of] bar drinking," he said.
“There has been a significant increase in the number of abandoned juveniles aged eight to 12 years of age. The police have had to change their roster to cover that problem and now have a midnight to dawn roster because kids are roaming the street while their parents drink in pubs,” Bowen said.
Sergeant Geoffrey Rimmer of the Fitzroy Crossing police station said the town saw a slight increase in the number of offences committed by juveniles over the Christmas period. He confirmed police adjusted their rosters to deal with the problem but said he did not believe the offences were related to the liquor restriction that went into effect on October 1.
“We were always having problems in the night time with anti-social behaviour and noise and general nuisance-type problems caused by people hanging around town. But to say the latest problems are linked to the liquor restrictions cannot be proved because of the way [the Indigenous community] lives. They live in extended families where the adults look after the kids, but it does not matter which adults look after which kids. This has not changed,” Rimmer said.
Bowen also alleged the Greyhound bus service has threatened to withdraw its services and has demanded a police escort because of vandalism he attributed to unaccompanied juveniles roaming the streets.
Greyhound Australia CEO, Robert Thomas, confirmed the bus line has suffered a spate of rock and bottle throwing at Fitzroy Crossing. He said in some instances drivers have had to pass their regular stop to avoid being attached but categorically denied the company would stop services to Fitzroy Crossing as a result of the attacks.