Police push for lockout expansion to Newtown

NSW venues should open no later than 3am and 1.30am lockouts should be rolled out to “various alcohol fuelled crime hotspots throughout the state” – such as inner-west Sydney suburbs Newtown and Erskineville – the Police Association of New South Wales has recommended.

Police urged the government to consider extending lockouts and reducing trading hours in their submission to a parliamentary inquiry yesterday. The inquiry is currently probing the effectiveness of the Sydney CBD lockout and last drinks laws, which were introduced by the O’Farrell government in February this year in response to the alcohol-related “coward punch” deaths of two young men in Kings Cross.

The police submission claimed assaults in Kings Cross dropped by 36 percent from February to August this year compared to the same period last year. It follows data presented yesterday by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, which showed that overall assaults in King Cross have dropped from 140 between March and June last year to 103 in the same period this year. But as inthemix reported yesterday, the data also showed a sharp rise in the number of assaults in Kings Cross and the Sydney CBD in the two months after lockouts began.

Bureau Director Professor Weatherburn told the parliamentary inquiry that it was too soon to tell what effect the new restrictions are having.”Anybody who is claiming success in reducing alcohol-related assaults because they’ve fallen since January this year is just misleading themselves, if not others,” he told the inquiry (via The ABC).

However, NSW police urged the government to take further measures, including:

-State-wide closing times of “no later than 3am” for all extended-hours venues;

-And a state-wide roll-out of the lockout laws to problem areas, naming Newtown and Erskineville as two suburbs of interest, where residents have reported alcohol-related crime behaviour that’s “the same as in Kings Cross and the CBD…due to the 24-hour licensed premises in the area.”

The parliamentary inquiry into ‘Measures to Reduce Alcohol and Drug-Related Violence’ heard submissions from 113 individuals and organisations, including the Keep Sydney Open campaign, the Sydney Business Chamber, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education and NSW Premier Mike Baird.

The inquiry is expected to make its report and recommendations to parliament in November, Inquiry Manager Dr Abigail Groves told inthemix.

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