'Lock-outs' cut liquor violence
A TASK FORCE set up by the police and local liquor accord groups has cut alcohol-related assaults by almost 50 per cent since it was established in February.
The NSW Director of Liquor and Gaming, Albert Gardner, was in Lismore yesterday to meet with police and the mayors of the Lismore, Ballina and Richmond Valley councils.
It was revealed that in the first five months of the operation, alcohol-related assaults in 11 'hot spot' pubs and clubs had been reduced by 47 per cent. Assaults in all licensed venues across the Richmond Local Area Command have fallen by 13 per cent.
Mr Gardner said an attitude of 'participation, collaboration and engagement' had been the key to the success of the task force.
“This task force has made local licensed venues and surrounding areas safer by reducing alcohol-related violence, and I congratulate the Lismore, Ballina and Casino communities on this success,” he said.
A voluntary 'lock-out' was introduced in Lismore earlier this year whereby licensed premises won't allow any new patrons in after 12.30am. The move is seen as successful way of stopping 'patron migration' from one hotel to another.
Mr Gardner said it was also a good way of controlling noisy patrons.
The Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing is also providing free workshops to frontline bar and security staff in Lismore and Casino so they can learn more about new liquor laws.
“This is about government working with industry to improve responsible service of alcohol practices in licensed venues and to reduce impacts on the community such as assaults, offensive behaviour and malicious damage,” Mr Gardner said.
A new Liquor Act came into force in NSW on July 1, and one of the aims is to give the community more input into the way alcohol is regulated. It also gives Mr Gardner and his office the power to impose conditions on licensees who are not meeting their responsibilities; to declare lock-outs or curfews; and to ban irresponsible liquor products and promotions to reduce intoxication levels.
The meeting also heard from Richmond Valley Council staff, who voiced concerns about the way 18th and 21st birthday parties were regularly being held on council premises without the hirers understanding their obligations to provide licensed security guards.