Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Booze-fuelled violence doubles in decade

BOOZE-FUELLED assaults in NSW have doubled in number in less than 10 years, the state's auditor general has found.

A third of all the alcohol-related violent incidents also occurred at a licensed hotel or club, Auditor General Peter Achterstraat said today.

"A lot more needs to be done to enforce and promote the responsible service of alcohol," Mr Achterstraat said in releasing the report.

"We need to make sure that police are trained better, and the public is better educated and there is a consistency in the application of the laws across the state."

There were 10,305 alcohol-related assaults, or ARAs, statewide in the 1997-98 financial year.

The figure climbed steadily upwards during the early 2000s to stand at 20,475 ARAs in 2006-07.

"The increase in alcohol-related crime is disturbing," Mr Achterstraat said.

Part of the problem stemmed from the inconsistent application of laws surrounding the irresponsible service of alcohol, he said.

Mr Achterstraat said NSW police and the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) both had powers to lay charges but in some cases licensees would receive a verbal warning when, for a similar incident, another would be fined.

"Whenever you have two agencies involved in administering a program there is always the need to liaise closer, and invariably things can fall through the cracks," Mr Achterstraat said.

In terms of pub and club owners facing the courts, police referred 136 cases to prosecutors in 2007, well up on the 58 cases in 2006.

The OLGR referred just six cases in 2007, up from two in 2006.

The report, titled Working with Hotels and Clubs to Reduce Alcohol-related Crime, found NSW has a total 14,227 licensed premises.

Thirty per cent of ARAs occurred on licensed premises in 2006-07, another 35 per cent occurred outdoors, while 24 per cent were in residential homes.


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