Monday, October 13, 2008

Closing Time

Police Commissioner Andrew Scippione wants licensed liquor trading hours to be cut back because he’s sick of seeing police officers assaulted. While I’m sure that many share his concern about the wellbeing of his police officers, the broader issue is of public safety and community wellbeing. While most crime rates are in fact being driven down, it is the violent crimes which are increasing, and the link to not only alcohol, but also drugs, has been well established.

While there are no doubt responsible and reasonable people who are capable of going out for a night on the town without vandalizing anything or assaulting anyone, it only takes a handful of idiots to wreck it for everybody else. They interfere with everybody else’s right to the peaceful enjoyment of a night out, and threaten the public safety.

Now, you don’t have to be drunk to be a thug, and you don’t have to become a thug if you have a few drinks, but it does seem that those who have the disposition to be unpleasant only become worse when they drink. Then of course there is the added concern about drugs, some of which are known to induce psychotic episodes.

The argument is often raised that Sydney is an international city and to close licensed venues earlier would harm the city’s image. But that’s just not true. A reputation for unchecked violent, loutish behavior does greater damage to the image. Besides, Commissioner Scippione points out that Las Angeles bars close at 2:00am, and it is a big international city too. More alarmingly, the Commissioner asserts that the rate of alcohol related violence is worse here than it is there.

While it is important to educate people to drink responsibly, and it is important to impose responsible service rules, ultimately there is only one way to make sure there are no alcohol fueled thugs wandering around at daybreak. That is to reduce the trading hours.

No comments: