Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Police Call Time For Last Drinks

It’s easy to get the impression that crime is out of control. Whenever an outrageous crime is committed the headlines scream for justice, and there have been some horrendous crimes over the years. Sensationalist reporting might help to sell newspapers, but at the same time that it leaves us all with the idea that crime is escalating out of control. But’s just not true. All of the objective statistics indicate that overall the incidence of crime is declining. But there are some isolated exceptions.

The most notable exception is an increase in violent crime associated with alcohol. It’s a problem not only in News South Wales, but around the nation. That’s why police commissioners from around Australia and New Zealand have joined forces to take a united stand on the issue. Together the police commissioners have proposed a range of measures including lower tax on lower alcohol drinks, community sobering up centres, and the most important proposal, a reduction in trading hours.

In particular, the commissioners questioned the need for 24 hour trading. Research quite clearly links longer trading hours with violence, and plain common sense dictates that if the bars are all shut then that would reduce the opportunity for problems to arise. International comparisons show that in places such as Los Angeles bars close at 2am. Even if Australian bars were to close at 3am, would that really be such an inconvenience?

This is not about stopping people from having a good time. There is ample opportunity to go out on the town and have fun before 3am. I would suggest that the only people likely to complain are also the people likely to be causing trouble in the first place. There may be a few others inconvenienced, but they would be a small minority compared to the ratbag element who seem to delight in running amok.

Let’s face it. We’ve had our chance, we’ve tried 24 hour trading, and there are enough people who cannot be trusted to behave themselves to make the whole thing not worth the trouble. It’s time to close the door at a sensible hour.

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