A new study challenges the effectiveness of controversial lockout laws from bars and clubs, such as were implemented in Byron Bay in 2013.
The study, by law lecturer Dr Mark Giancaspro from the University of Adelaide, suggests lockout laws may not be the reason alcohol arrests have declined in that city – or a number of other Australian cities where they have been introduced.
Lockouts, which have been implemented in many communities in recent years, have been cited by supporters as the primary reason for a decline in alcohol-related violence.
But in his study, which was published in the Alternative Law Journal this month, Dr Giancaspro looked at a number of cities where the lockouts had been implemented and came to the conclusion that they were ineffective.
For example, he writes that Queensland ’s 3am lockout was ‘condemned in a parliamentary inquiry in 2010.
‘One criminology expert labelled the law “a complete, absolute 100 per cent failure”,’ Dr Giancaspro said.
‘The 2am lockout trialled in Melbourne in 2008 was similarly shown to have little impact upon alcohol-fuelled antisocial behaviour and was promptly abolished. In fact, there were claims that incidents of assault had increased following the introduction of the lockout,’ he added.
‘The data relating to the lockout laws in Perth and Sydney does not paint a clear picture either way.’
Dr Giancaspro believes an increased police presence and a limit on the types of drinks served late at night are more likely to be behind the 25 per cent drop in alcohol-fuelled violence on Adelaide’s streets.
‘These include: requiring licensed venues to use particular forms of glassware; limiting the drink varieties they can sell at certain times; providing first aid officers and public transport information; and better managing queues outside their premises,’ he said.
‘There is no obvious and systematic correlation between the introduction of lockout laws and a reduction in incidences of alcohol-related violence,’ Dr Giancaspro added.
Byron Bay’s Liquor Accord was widely credited with a 13 per cent reduction in alcohol-related incidents in 2014, a year after it was implemented. But there was no attempt to separate out the proportion attributed to lockouts.