The Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) has painted a somewhat rosy picture of the role of The Star in alcohol-related violence in Sydney.
Today releasing data from the beginning of 2009 until December 2015, the figures on recorded assaults present a fairly clear before and after picture, despite covering less than two years since the lockout period began in March 2014.
The Justice department’s BOCSAR mitigated its findings by noting a “very small” increase in the monthly rate of assault in and around The Star “compared with the reduction in assaults found in the Kings Cross and CBD entertainment precincts”.
The problem with this comparison is that it is based on specific assault numbers, but the sample of patrons in the CBD and Kings Cross precincts greatly outnumbers the one Casino venue, meaning the incident rate numbers will also differ accordingly.
But further to that, businesses and the City of Sydney have stated massive declines in patron numbers – largely considered the real cause of any drop in assaults.
It is perhaps more relevant – discounting changes in patron numbers – to compare percentage increases or decreases. The Bureau’s initial report at this point a year ago championed a 32 per cent reduction in assaults in Kings Cross after the first year of lockouts.
Here is the results of Pyrmont and The Star for the same period.
Increase since lockout:
The Star: 104%
The Bureau also referenced the need for comparison of seasonally corresponding data, which is based on the need to recognise fluctuations in patron numbers.
Here is the results of Pyrmont and The Star over the same 21-month period prior to versus after the lockout.
Increase since lockout:
The Star: 52%
The research’s results claim that the ‘fairly small’ increase was “less than two additional assaults per month”. The BOCSAR numbers show that number to be an average of 2.67 additional assaults, every month, for a total of 93.71 assaults for a year.
During the same corresponding period, Merivale’s ivy – which arguably sees more revellers hour-to-hour that any other venue in Sydney – dropped from its chart-topping shame of 26 incidents, to a more respectable 14 incidents.
BOCSAR’s data transcends any conclusions to clearly show the Casino-size elephant in the room of the failings of the trade restrictions; both to actually have an effect on reducing violence versus simply discouraging patronage, and to apply penalties where they are warranted rather than across an entire precinct, or two.
The NSW State Government – led by “Casino Mike” – has been under increasing pressure to account for the disparity of the casino exclusions, and the intense focus opened by the mandated 2-year review into the controversial lockout and last drinks laws has served well to further widen exposure to this question.