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Alcohol-feulled violence is worst in the City

Trendy night spots in the booming pub districts of East Sydney the City are recording a higher number of alcohol-related violent crimes than Redfern reports Candice Chung in the South Sydney Herald May 2008.

Almost three times as many cases of assaults were reported in Kings Cross in the year to 2007 compared to Redfern, according to a report released by the NSW Auditor General last month.

City Central tops the number of drunken brawls with 774 incidents reported in a 12-month period, while Kings Cross and Surry Hills recorded 574 and 333 cases of assault respectively. Redfern recorded only 203 incidents in the same period.

The same report found that alcohol-related assaults have almost doubled over the past decade, with the number of incidents reported jumping from 10,305 in 1997-98 to 20,475 in 2006-07.

Almost one third of the alcohol linked offences occurred on licensed premises such as pubs and clubs.

Barry Underwood, spokesperson for the Audit Office of NSW, said there needs to be a more consistent approach to enforcing the liquor laws in order to reduce alcohol-related crime.

“Both the police and the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) need to reinforce the law. At the moment they’re not doing this consistently,” Mr Underwood said.

“For example, one licensing officer might take someone to court for a practice that another officer might just issue a warning for. Our concern is that this is sending a mixed message about what licensees should be doing.

“The police also need to make better use of their resources. At the moment, they’re not focusing on areas of greatest needs,” he said.

Another recommendation from the report is “naming and shaming” pubs and clubs that have breached their liquor licenses.

An earlier report from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research showed that areas with a higher concentration of late-trading premises tend to experience increased crime rates.

The research revealed that the George Street cinema strip, Taylor Square and Kings Cross were the city’s “hotspots” for violence and robberies. More than half of the crimes were alcohol related.

Professor Ian Webster, the chairman of Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation, said the problem venues tend to be places where people travel from outside of the local area “to have a good time”.

“The density of entertainment outlets influences the behaviour of people in the locality. In fact, recent research shows that when you’ve got a high density of alcohol outlets, you get increased property crimes and violent behaviour,” Professor Webster said.

“I would argue that local communities should be much more involved in determining things like the number of licenses in the area, where they’re located and their hours of operation.”

Professor Webster believes the key to driving down alcohol related crime rests in limiting the number of late-trading premises and fostering greater co-operation between police and licensees.

An overhaul of the Liquor Act will come into effect from July 1 and is expected to give increased powers to police and the director of liquor and gaming to take action against problem venues and unscrupulous licensees

Source: South Sydney Herald May 2008