THREE years after taking a tough stance on alcohol-fuelled violence and anti-social behaviour in Byron Bay, venues have reported a "significant drop” in alcohol related incidents.
Figures from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research show alcohol related incidents in Byron Bay fell 60% over the past four years; from 4277 incidents in 2012 to 1342 incidents in 2016.
Chairwoman of the Byron Liquor Accord, Hannah Spalding, said the figures proved that "ground-breaking reforms”, including the Byron Alcohol Action Plan, were working.
"By the summer of 2011-12, Byron Bay was at a crossroads with mounting concerns about alcohol-related crimes and anti-social behaviour around licenced premises, and sense of safety at an all-time low,” she said.
"In response, Byron Liquor Accord ramped up efforts - together with the Byron Shire Council, NSW Police, Byron United, the Byron Youth Service and the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing.”
The Byron Bay Alcohol Action Plan was finalised in late 2013, controversially introducing a 1.30am lockout; four drink limit per person, per serve after midnight; no double shots, shooters or jugs of alcohol; and no energy drinks with alcohol after 2am.
Venues also stopped serving alcohol 15 minutes before close time and refused entry to anyone wearing the name of an outlawed motorcycle gang.
But as the 2016-17 festive season approaches, Ms Spalding said the Byron Liquor Accord believed there was still some way to go.
"Licensees, largely, can only control their venue,” she said.
"It's vital strong relationships continue with NSW Police and Byron Shire Council to continue street patrols, enforcement of alcohol-free zones, improvements in late night transport, and street lighting.
"Expanded use of ID scanners is being discussed by stakeholders, as are ways to reduce 'pre-fuelling' drinking behaviour, street drinking and high risk events like beach parties.”
The NSW Government's 2016 review of the Byron bay Alcohol Action Plan made a number of important findings, including:
- Reduction of alcohol-related assaults
- Decline in offensive-behaviour incidents
- Stakeholders believed public safety was better
- Improved culture among licensed premises
- High level of compliance and responsibility by stakeholders.