Three strikes not enough

NSW police have called for greater direct action against alcohol-fuelled violence in the wake of the Government’s planned “three strike” liquor laws.

The NSW Police Association president Scott Webber said the laws were reactive rather than preventative and could let “dodgy pubs and clubs” off the hook by encouraging under-reporting.

The Minister for Hospitality and Gaming George Souris this week followed through on a Coalition election promise with legislation that could strip troubled venues of their licences for three offences in the first year (one strike), two additional offences in the second (two strikes) and one in the third (three strikes).

“Under the policy, a pub, club, bottle shop, restaurant or any licensed venue would record a strike for repeated breaches of a range of offences under the Liquor Act which result in unacceptable impacts on local communities,” Mr Souris said.

“These offences include permitting intoxication, allowing violent behaviour on the premises, supplying alcohol to a minor or an intoxicated patron, permitting the sale or use of illicit drugs on the premises and breaching key licence conditions.”

While Mr Weber conceded punishing bad venues was “a necessary reactive measure”, he believes the community wants to see more done to stop booze-fuelled violence occurring in the first place.

“That’s why the foundation of an effective policy to reduce alcohol-related violence must be prevention,” Mr Weber said.

“As the experience in Newcastle has proved, a precinct wide approach involving earlier closing times, lock-outs and restrictions on the sale of high-alcohol drinks are preventative measures that work – these resulted in a 37 per cent reduction in assaults against police and the community.”

Mr Webber said the new policy was more like six strikes than three, and exempted clubs (in recognition of their “unique community role”) which include some of the state’s most violent venues.

“It’s a system that will let dodgy pubs and clubs go about their business for up to three years before something is done,” he said.

A spokesperson for Australian Hotels Association said they were waiting for more details on the legislation before commenting.

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