Zero tolerance of drunks at Byron Bay

By Brian Bigg

A SPECIAL taskforce has been set up to address drunkeness and alcohol-related crime in Byron Bay.

The Byron Bay Alcohol Response Taskforce will be launched today to reduce alcohol-related antisocial behaviour by targeting intoxication in and around licensed venues.

The NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing's Strategic Enforcement Unit has established the taskforce with police from the Tweed-Byron Local Area Command and the Byron Bay% Liquor Accord.

Etra enforcement and education resources would be deployed to the Byron Bay area, Director of Liquor and Gaming, Albert Gardner said.

This would include covert operations by liquor inspectors and police at licensed venues focusing on the busiest nights of the week and special events like concerts and festivals.

There also would be a plan for zero tolerance towards drunk patrons refusing to leave venues when asked; audits of licensed venues to help licensees strengthen alcohol and security management plans; Responsible Service of Alcohol workshops for bar, security and door staff; and a new campaign called 'Be Part Of It, Not Out Of It' targeting young adults to promote responsible drinking.

"There is no doubt alcohol is contributing to the rate of assaults, offensive behaviour and road accidents in Byron Bay," Mr Gardner said.

"Just over half of assaults in the Tweed-Byron LAC are alcohol-related. The rate of assaults occurring on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights is a concern.

"From 2002 to 2006, 93 people were injured or killed in alcohol-related crashes in the Byron Bay local government area. In five out of the last six years, Tweed-Byron LAC was ranked number one in the State for drink-driving% offences.

"The level of intoxication in and around licensed venues is clearly an issue and we see licensees as instrumental in helping us and police to reduce these statistics.

"We don't want licensees serving% patrons to the point of intoxication and then ejecting them at the first sign of trouble, because that's when the community is affected by noise, assaults and malicious damage."

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