VIOLENCE IN NSW VENUES AT LOWEST LEVEL EVER. MOSTLY

In News & Releases by Clyde Mooney

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The ongoing push to reduce violence in venues has achieved a milestone, with no venues – except the casino – recording enough incidents to make the top tier.

The NSW Government today released the news that the latest, Round 16 Violent Venues List, has no entries in the highest restrictions, applied to licensed venues (except the casino) experiencing 19 incidents or more in a 12-month period.

Introduced in 2008, the first list compiled by the State regulator (now Liquor & Gaming NSW) from police data noted 1,270 incidents that year.

This latest report notes just 112 incidents, representing a whopping 91 per cent reduction in the last eight years, at a relatively constant trend rate around 19 per cent per year.

There are now no venues on Level 1 restrictions, and only eight on Level 2. This report, another seven venues are removed from the list altogether.

The results are overwhelmingly due to efforts by venues to minimise violence and anti-social activity – spurred on by the punitive consequences of the Violent Venues list, which imposes restrictions including the use of glassware, early cessation of service and even a 1:30 lockout for those on Level 1 restrictions.

“Our focus remains on targeted approaches that allocate resources where they are needed rather than blanket one-size-fits-all methods,” said Minister for Justice Troy Grant.

However, the scheme has copped criticism for not applying to the 24-hour licensed to serve alcohol and operate gaming casino, which also carves an incongruous chunk out of Sydney’s notorious lockout zone blanketing the CBD and Kings Cross.

The Star has enjoyed the spoils of Sydney’s curfew, with city-going patrons able to trot down to Darling Harbour and drink and enjoy the trappings of a licensed venue until whenever they choose to leave.

BOCSAR (Bureau of Crime Statistics & Research) data is not publicly available for The Star.

However, the Bureau’s online crime map says the 3-year trend for Pyrmont Precinct, which contains The Star but no licensed venues mentioned in the Violent Venues List, is a stark contrast to the State trend – up 20.5 per cent in violent incidents.

The ABC’s PM program recently brought into question methodology in The Star’s reporting of incidents, following a leaked report document by L&GNSW. A rebuttal statement by the casino said it “rejects” the report and that the regulator has itself “[misunderstood] the reporting process”.

Meanwhile, for a reason apparently other than The Star or any licensed venue in the precinct, last financial year Pyrmont’s rate of ‘Liquor Offences’ was 407 per cent of the NSW average, and its rate of Non-Domestic Assault 306 per cent that of the NSW average.

Minister Grant says the latest Violent Venues report is great news for venues and patrons, entering the Christmas and summer period.

“The number of violent incidents are trending down and people can be confident that they will be able to enjoy safe nights out this summer.” Maybe except at the casino.