The Bureau of Crime Statistics & Research (BOCSAR) last week admitted an error in reporting over the drop in assaults statistics that emerged from its report on Sydney CBD and Kings Cross trading restrictions.

Speaking with PubTIC, BOCSAR’s Dr Don Weatherburn clarified that it is not the Bureau’s role to judge the laws, but simply to analyse whether assaults had been reduced.

“Our task was simply to investigate whether the laws resulted in a fall in assaults,” said Weatherburn.

“It’s for others to judge whether the benefit (in terms of reduced assault) was worth the cost (in terms of falling business revenue etc).”

News of a 40 per cent reduction in assaults in the CBD has been used since the report’s release as justification for the trade restrictions and so-called “lockout laws”, although BOCSAR’s report actually noted a 26 per cent reduction in the entire area, and a 40 per cent reduction only “in the sub-section George Street-South”.

Dr Weatherburn also clarified that although the recent report did not appear to take into account the potential for incidents to have relocated away from the restricted zones to non-licensed premises, the potential was taken into account.

“We will be looking at changes in the number and distribution of assaults in our next report, but if the reforms had reduced non-domestic assault and increased domestic assault, we would have seen it.

“There is no evidence of a rise in domestic assault around the time the lock-out laws took effect.”

Dr Weatherburn was subsequently asked about the validity of statistical research on violence without any data to indicate how it may be being skewed by the now well-publicised increase in the use of ‘ice’.

It was suggested that a study of violent incidents in and around licensed venues is akin to studying drink-driving fatalities without accounting for factors such as speed (or drugs), or in this case even the number of cars on the road.

Unfortunately the Bureau was unable to supply a comment on this matter prior to this bulletin, but will hopefully shed further insight to the debate with upcoming reports.


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