Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research

​Lockouts and last drinks: The impact of the January 2014 liquor licence reforms on assaults in NSW, Australia

Patricia Menéndez, Don Weatherburn, Kypros Kypri and Jacqueline Fitzgerald

Bulletin no. 183

Sydney, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, April 2015

Release Date:    16 April 2015

Full report [pdf, 567kb]                

Summary

This paper analyses police data to determine the impact that 2014 reforms to the NSW Liquor Act or 'Lockout Laws' had on violence (non-domestic assault) occurring in the Kings Cross and Sydney CBD Entertainment Precincts. It includes figures showing the impact the laws had on assaults occurring in proximate and surrounding areas and the rest of New South Wales.

Aims: To determine (1) whether the January 2014 reforms to the NSW Liquor Act reduced the incidence of assault in the Kings Cross and Sydney CBD Entertainment Precincts. (2) Whether the incidence of assault increased in areas proximate to these Precincts or in nightspots further away but still within easy reach of these Precincts. (3) If there is evidence of displacement, and whether the reduction in assaults in the Kings Cross and Sydney CBD Entertainment Precincts was larger than the increase in the number of assaults in the displacement areas.

Method: We examine the effects of the legislative reforms introduced in January 2014 using time series structural models. These models are used to estimate the underlying long term dynamics of the time series of police recorded non-domestic assaults in NSW between January 2009 and December 2013. The effect of the January 2014 reform is captured by including terms in the models reflecting the timing of the change. Separate analyses are carried out for: the Kings Cross Precinct (KXP); the Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct (CBD); an area contiguous with KXP and CBD that we refer to as the proximal displacement area (PDA); a group of entertainment areas not far from the Kings Cross or the Sydney CBD Precincts, which we refer to as the distal displacement area (DDA) and the rest of NSW.

Results: Following the reforms statistically significant and substantial reductions in assault occurred in both the Kings Cross (down 32%) and Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct (down 26 %) (including a 40% decline in the sub-section George Street – South). A smaller but still significant reduction in assault occurred across the rest of NSW (9% decrease). The January 2014 reforms were also associated with small decreases in assault in the PDA and the DDA but neither of these changes was statistically significant. There was some evidence that assaults increased in and around The Star casino, however the effects are not statistically significant and the reduction in assault elsewhere was much larger than the increase around The Star casino.

Conclusion: The January 2014 reforms appear to have reduced the incidence of assault in the Kings Cross and CBD Entertainment Precincts. The extent to which this is due to a change in alcohol consumption or a change in the number of people visiting the Kings Cross and Sydney Entertainment Precincts remains unknown.

Keywords: alcohol, assault, violent crime, trading-hours, liquor licence, Kings Cross, Sydney, time series structural models, evaluation, displacement