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Following the festive season there is little respite for police during the busy summer holiday period.
Workloads escalate as police target speeding, impaired and high-risk drivers, increased calls in relation to family/ domestic violence, alcohol and drug consumption, personal safety and crowd management at large scale events.
The job of protecting the community and ensuring people have a safe and happy summer is unrelenting.
There is also the ever present threat of bushfires when police help facilitate safe-firefighting operations via road closures, road safety and safe movement of people in danger.
Alcohol-related violence is also a part of the summer landscape as unfortunately, intoxicated people become more vulnerable to either committing a crime, or becoming a victim of crime.
As a member of the Last Drinks Coalition we were disappointed by the government’s announcement in December that it would weaken the modest Lockout Laws that have been proven to save lives and reduce alcohol‑related violence.
The NSW Government introduced the Lockout Laws in 2014 following the one punch deaths of teenagers Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie.
Shortly after they were introduced, assaults in Kings Cross fell to below 20 per month and the number of patients admitted with serious head injuries at St Vincent’s fell by 50 per cent.
In June 2016 the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics Research reported that Kings Cross had seen a 59.2 per cent decrease in assaults between 6pm and 1.30am and a 93.9 per cent decrease between 3am and 6am.
These unequivocal results confirmed the laws have worked. Not only is Sydney safer, there are reduced assaults on emergency service workers.
However, in December last year, the NSW government moved for a two-year trial on changes recommended in the Callinan Review: a later 2am lockout and 3.30am last drinks allowed via exemption for venues that offer live entertainment, with bottle shops to close at 11.00pm.
The government needs to provide a stringent definition of “entertainment venue”; currently defined by Liquor and Gaming NSW as, “events where one or more entertainers are engaged to perform music (live or pre-recorded) or live performance where performers are present.”
This means that a person playing guitar or a laptop with some speakers, could turn any bar into an entertainment venue.
It’s a loophole that’s likely to be exploited by some nightclub owners to bend the rules.
We cannot become complacent because the lockout laws are working.
Your Association will closely monitor developments; especially if there is any escalation in alcohol-related violence or assaults on police as a result of softening the measures that are proven to work.
Not only is it essential Sydney’s lock out laws remain, they must be rolled out state-wide to other communities affected by alcohol-fuelled violence.
The Camden Branch of the PANSW has accepted a staffing offer from South West Region and as an interim measure ceased stage two industrial action in late December. The offer was a move in the right direction and met some of the branch’s demands. However the branch is continuing the campaign for more staff.
There haven’t been any extra authorised positions created at Camden LAC since 2012 and for about two-and-a-half years the branch has lobbied to have their staffing increased. Camden LAC had an increase of 1600 call outs in the last financial year on previous years.
Response time in the rapidly growing Camden LAC is six minutes slower than the state average due to workload and the geographical distance covered.
We are calling on the NSWPF hierarchy to show leadership and stand with local police and the Camden community by allocating the police numbers needed. It’s critical this region has appropriate staffing levels to prevent crime, keep the community safe and protect officers who are on the frontline responding to calls for assistance.
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