Hotel closures reduce alcohol-related crime
05/06/2012 - Deakin University's gambling expert, professor Linda Hancock has called on Victorian regulators to draw on the latest research from NSW which shows 3am closures of hotels reduced alcohol-related crime in Newcastle.
New research by Dr John Wiggers, director of population health, Hunter New England, NSW, into closure of hotels in the Newcastle CBD was presented at a Deakin Forum held in Melbourne recently to address more effective regulation of gambling and alcohol venues in Victoria.
"Evidence of the harms of both alcohol and gambling to individuals, families and communities is well documented," Hancock said.
"The big question is how better regulation and enforcement could work under the new regulator (Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation) - an election promise of the Baillieu government."
Hancock said Gary Banks, chairman of the Productivity Commission, was also a keynote speaker at the forum.
"Gary has been critical of the states' "light touch" gambling regulation the influence of alcohol and players' loss of control in his 2010 gambling report," she said.
Hancock said Wigger's research showed a 35 per cent reduction in assaults with 3am hotel closures.
"Mandated early closure of 14 hotels in the Newcastle CBD has reduced alcohol-related crime," she said.
"This reduction has been maintained in an evaluation, three years later."
Other findings include 35 per cent reduction in night-time non-domestic assaults and 50 per cent reduction in night-time street offences requiring police attention, along with 26 per cent reduction in night-time assault-related injury presentations to local hospitals.
Earlier closure has broad public support: a survey of 376 randomly selected Lower Hunter household members the research found.
Seventy-seven per cent supported the reduced trading hours conditions and 80 per cent supported the lock-out conditions.
"Why can't Victoria implement 3am closure and early lockouts in licensed premises to reduce alcohol-related offences?" Hancock asked.
"A six month trial of 3am closures of all licensed premises including Crown Casino would have a dramatic impact on reducing alcohol-related crime in the CBD."
Researchers at the forum also gave the latest evidence on how gambling and alcohol harms need to be addressed by better licensing decisions, better compliance with 'host responsibility' and codes of conduct on responsible gambling and responsible service of alcohol and up-scaled enforcement.
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