Pubs, clubs and other licensed venues in the Lismore area will ban troublemakers in a crackdown on alcohol-fuelled violence which kicks off today.
This morning at Lismore Workers Club, the city’s Liquor Accord launched a barring policy to encourage acceptable behaviour and help in the safety of patrons on licensed premises.
Venues will take a unified approach in suspending bad-behaving patrons who refuse to leave licensed premises when asked, from three months to life.
The scheme will be evaluated after three months to see how effective it is.
Liquor Accord chairman Steve Bortolin said the policy would ensure consistency when dealing with patrons involved in alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour in or around licensed premises.
The policy applies at all member venues, and informs patrons of the length of time they will be banned for a range of incidents.
‘For example, under the policy, a patron causing malicious damage in the immediate vicinity of an accord venue may be banned from that venue for six months,’ Mr Bortolin said.
‘This policy promotes individual responsibility and sets an acceptable standard of behaviour in and around all of our local licensed venues.
‘It spreads the message to troublemakers that our local community will not accept their bad behaviour’.
Mr Bortolin said Lismore Liquor Accord had implemented many strategies over the years to reduce the impact of alcohol consumption on the local community.
This is in contrast to Byron Bay, where that town’s liquor accord members are pushing instead for the installation of CCTV surveillance cameras to try and deter alcohol-fuelled violence, which has put the tourist destination on the map for the wrong reasons.
But neither Byron Council, nor police, want to pay for or monitor the cameras. Byron mayor Jan Barham, backed a majority of councillors, the police union and doctors, prefers earlier closing times, lockouts and other restrictions of pubs and nightclubs to tackle the problem.
Byron Bay, dubbed by police as the fourth most violent area in the state, has over 50 licensed venues in the CBD alone.
CCTV not the answer
Cr Barham says cameras will not prevent crime or alcohol-fuelled violence but act mostly for evidence-gathering.
‘Cameras are not about public safety, but about police wanting evidence for a prosecution for vandalism or robberies.
‘It’s misleading for Byron United (business chamber) and police to put out there that cameras will solve the problem of acolohol-fuelled violence: I don’t believe that, they should argue it out with the police association which says earlier closing times and restrictions work to curb such violence.’
Cr Barham, a state Greens MLC, said she was also working on organising another state alcohol summit similar to one held in 2003.
But she said recommendations from that summit were ignored by the former Labor government.
‘It’s time for a bigger discussion on alcohol and violence and youth drinking. The former government was gutless by not implementing those recommendations of the last summit requiring liquor accords to be in place in every town and not just voluntarily like it is now,’ she said.
‘They also recommended stricter controls on the industry, but the government simply caved in because of the problem, as I see it, in powerful lobby groups such as the hotels association and club industry all donating money to both major parties’ election campaigns and applying pressure on governments (to avoid restrictions).’
Byron United president Paul Waters says cameras in combination with other measures such as increased police patrols at weekends would ‘get the message out’ once a few troublemakers were caught.
‘Cameras don’t stop that violence but have a cumulative effect and these muscle-bound dickheads would be slowly run out of town.’
He said a lockout wouldn’t work because it would create a bigger problem for policing with groups congregating on the streets.