The number of people turning up at hospital with alcohol-related injuries in Sydney has reduced, along with the severity of their injuries, following the introduction of 1.30am lockouts and 3am bar closures, a NSW Parliamentary inquiry has been told.
In a submission to Parliament’s Law and Safety Committee, Professor Michael Grigg, president of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons says there has been a “significant reduction” in both the number and severity of alcohol-related injuries turning up at St Vincent’s Hospital in Darlinghurst.
But CBD bar manager Jeremy Fraser, who runs Side Bar in Haymarket, says in his submission says his security staff are being abused for 90 minutes every night and police are called for assistance more often as an “unintended consequence” of the lockouts.
“Since the introduction of the lockout laws, our need to call police for assistance has increased from about once a month, to almost weekly,” he writes. “I have seen a marked increase in violence around my venue, usually directed towards myself or security staff.”
Fraser details how every night, when the laws come into effect at 1.30am, the verbal and sometimes physical abuse begins when people are refused entry.
“We expected this to only be for the first week or two of the new laws, however it has not slowed over the past few months of the laws. Every night we are in conflict with at least 8-20 guests,” he says.
The laws also mean patrons who go outside after 1.30am cannot return to the venue. Fraser says one security guard is kept busy collecting belongings to return to the patrons.
“This also leaves my security team focusing on informing patrons of the lockout laws, and collecting jackets etc. instead of doing their primary role of spotting intoxication,” he says.
Jeremy Fraser’s view is supported by some of the 11 written submissions, however a Kings Cross resident, who says he’s lived at ‘Ground Zero’ for 14 years argued the legislation was working.
“Since the lockout and associated legislations were introduced in February 2014, the community here in Kings Cross has been able to breathe, to live, to sleep, and to walk our streets in safety,” his submission says adding that the daytime economy is “flowering” as a result.
“New cafes, restaurants, retail shops are no longer bound to or scared off by the ’24-hour alcohol economy’ and it’s ugly and violent footprint. The place is feeling reinvigorated, and most importantly, safer,” he says.
However, it may be that the problem has simply shifted to areas outside the precinct, with Redfoo being glassed in Double Bay.
The Law and Safety Committee inquiry will hold public hearings at the NSW Parliament tomorrow, September 3.
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