City News

Lockout laws: tough on crime, bad for business

Kings Cross businesses are suffering as a result of the lockout laws

Despite reports of a considerable drop in the rate of violent crime in Kings Cross, business owners are calling for an immediate review of the state government’s lockout laws.

NSW Police released figures this week indicating that violent offences committed inside licensed premises located in Kings Cross had fallen by 30.5 per cent during the past two years.

However, the laws only came into effect on February 24. As such, the figure is not a reliable metric for measuring the laws’ efficacy in curbing incidences of assault.

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione nonetheless saw the statistic as a reason to celebrate.

“Police across the state are doing a great job in preventing violence in our pubs and clubs,” Mr Scipione said.

Small business owners in Kings Cross are less enthusiastic about the lockout laws.

Kings Cross Liquor Accord (KCLA) chief executive officer Doug Grand says that feedback from various KCLA stakeholders suggests the area is undergoing a greater decline in daytime trading than it has known in the past 50 years.

“If this continues without a proper review, then the area will be decimated,”he said.

Mr Grand estimates that a total of 200 jobs have been siphoned from Kings Cross since the laws were first implemented.

The KLCA CEO is also sceptical about the effectiveness of the laws in hindering violence. Mr Grand instead drew a parallel between the diminished number of assaults with the diminished number of late-night patrons to the CBD’s pubs, bars and clubs.

But, the state government is showing no signs of backing down on its tough stance on alcohol-fuelled violence. A new spate of laws, set to come into effect in July, further tightening the service of alcohol in central Sydney was announced last Wednesday.

Shots, doubles and pre-mixed drinks will all be banned after midnight for establishments falling within the designated lockout zone. In addition to the pre-existing 3am curfew, customers will also be prohibited from buying more than four drinks at a time before midnight and more than two drinks before 2am.

John Green, NSW director of policing at the Australian Hotels Association, echoed Kings Cross business owners in calling for a review of the growing suite of lockout laws. Mr Green argued that the blanket ban unfairly disadvantaged venues with no history of alcohol-related crime.

It is worth noting that while assaults committed inside licensed premises fell in the CBD by 15.1 per cent, figures for assaults committed outside venues did not change, or at worst, increased marginally. This has raised concerns the lockout laws have failed to address the root of the problem, and have only pushed violence out onto the streets.

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