How will shutting down the city help victims of street violence?

14 January, 2014

Calls to shut down Australia's only global city will do absolutely nothing to help victims of violence on our streets, AHA NSW director of policing John Green has said.

In fact, it would see more people out on our streets at the early hours of the morning. Green said there are some in the media that would rather attack licensed premises than deal with the actual problem – thugs who roamed the streets fuelled on drugs, alcohol or testosterone with no consequences.

"Yet again we have another tragic incident where an innocent young man is allegedly attacked on the streets of Potts Point relatively early in the evening," he said.

"Our thoughts are with his family at this terrible time.

"While we can't comment on this specific case, we believe more needs to be done to target the criminals who think it is ok to pre-fuel on drugs and/or alcohol, then roam the streets at will attacking others.

"Today, the same organisations are again using an incident which occurred early in the evening to call for mandatory lock-outs and closures of hotels from 1.30am. Yet no one seems to be able to explain how this would help?

"This flies in the face of common sense. The latest tragic incident happened at 9.10pm allegedly by a man on bail for assault.

"The death of Thomas Kelly happened just after 10.00pm almost at the same location in Kings Cross – how would further restrictions on venues in the early hours of the morning make any difference?

"The victims of street violence deserve better than a media sound bite – we need to reduce the violence by targeting those doing the wrong thing, not by bringing in further restrictions on hotels that will make no difference.

"The government has already imposed a significant range of restrictions on venues in Kings Cross – some tougher than the Newcastle model promoted by the police union."

In fact, what we've been saying for some time has now been vindicated by further BOCSAR data – the Newcastle method of imposing early closures and driving people away from the CBD at night isn't as effective as local solutions developed in collaboration. 

"Transport and resources are also an issue in places like the Cross." Green said more attention also needs to be given to the culture of mixing drugs and alcohol and the wave of pre-fuelling of pre-packed cheap liquor from bottleshops.

"We all know drugs and pre-fuelling are a problem yet no one seems to want to do anything about it," he said.

"Why don't we look at mandatory drug testing for those arrested for violent behaviour?

"Almost as many people were arrested at one New Year's dance party for drug offences that were arrested across the state on New Year's Eve/New Year's Day but everyone turns a blind eye.

"There were more than 100 clandestine drug laboratories discovered and dismantled by police last year – again no one seems to want to make the link between drugs, drinking and violent crime."

Green said hotels were part of the community and would continue to work with government and the NSW Police Force on solutions to violence.

"Independent Bureau of Statistics figures show that violence in and around licensed premises are at the lowest levels in 15 years – this is thanks to the co-operation between hoteliers and police," he said.

"However, we are being told by doctors that the intensity of assaults is increasing. What has changed, and where has the prevalence of the 'king hit' culture at all hours of the night come from?

"There is a far deeper explanation, and simply closing hotels and shutting down the city is not the answer. We need to work with the community on finding solutions."