There’s no questioning that alcohol causes more than it’s fair share of problems in our society – health, social, economic, you name it. But sadly there are no easy solutions to these problems; consumption of alcohol is ingrained in so many aspects of our society and prohibition has been shown time and again to simply not be effective.
Earlier this year, a group calling themselves the “Last Drinks Coalition“, made up of police officers, paramedics, doctors and nurses, launched a campaign intended to curb alcohol fueled violence, particularly against members of their professions. The campaign calls for a state wide 3am closing time for pubs and clubs, with a 1am lockout and a ban on the sale of high alcohol content drinks after 10pm.
The campaign is certainly well intentioned and is backed up by some impressive statistics from a similar program carried out in Newcastle since 2008, which has seen a significant drop in late night assaults and other anti-social and criminal behaviour.
However it is hard to say if this is best way forward. After all, the majority of people who frequent pubs and clubs late at night do not become violent or anti-social. Is it appropriate to punish all for the actions of a minority?
3am closing would also make a significant dent in the profit margin of many pubs and clubs and may drive some out of business. Such businesses make a significant contribution to the economy of the City of Sydney and many other places, often serving as important sources of employment for students and other young people.
And what about the issue of transport, if thousands of people are suddenly ejected out on to the streets simultaneously at 3am?
All these issues are things that I will need to consider when it comes time to vote on Council’s new late night trading Development Control Plan. And it is an issue that will need to be dealt with in the lead up to the state election only a few months from now.
I would love to hear from anyone with expertise, experience or even just strong opinions in this field as to what they think the best way forward is in dealing with alcohol related crime. Feel free to leave a comment or to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. All feedback will be most appreciated.
Image by Orin Zebest, use authorised under Creative Commons.