Special squad to target alcohol-related crime
By ANDY PARKS
ALCOHOL-related assaults are 'unacceptably high' for the Richmond Local Area Command (LAC), according to the Director of Liquor and Gaming, Albert Gardner.
Mr Gardner will be at the Lismore Workers Club today to launch a taskforce designed to crack down on alcohol-related crime in the area.
"There is no doubt alcohol is contributing to the rate of assaults, offensive behaviour and road accidents in the Richmond LAC," Mr Gardner said.
"There were 152 assaults in licensed premises in the Lismore, Ballina and Richmond Valley council areas between July 2006 and June 2007."
Local police and officers from the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing will be working together as part of the taskforce to reduce alcohol-related assaults, malicious damage and street offences.
Similar taskforces have already been set up in other areas in the region and have shown significant results. Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing figures show assaults in licensed venues have been cut by 45 per cent in Grafton, 29 per cent in Coffs Harbour, 13 per cent in Byron Bay and 11 per cent in Kingscliff since taskforces began operating.
"In three problem venues in Byron Bay, assaults are down by 80 per cent," Mr Gardner said.
"They're the venues we're engaging through this intense case management process. We're letting them know that we'll be on their case every day of the week."
Lismore Workers Club's operations manager Phill Kelly is secretary of the Lismore City Liquor Accord. He said dispersing patrons as quickly as possible after venues had closed was the key to avoiding alcohol-%related crime.
"The late-night bus has helped a lot, as has the secure taxi rank in Lismore," he said.