Liquor licensing enforcement and assaults on licensed premises


Click here for the full report (pdf, 697Kb)

Release Date: 5 November 2009

New research by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research has shown that the number of assaults on the top 100 licensed premises (in terms of assault) has fallen substantially over the last year. So too, has the number of 'glassings'.

The research was carried out by the Bureau to evaluate the effect of new restrictions placed by the Government on licensed premises that are the site of a large number of assaults.

The restrictions, which came into effect on the 1st of December 2008, included mandatory 2am lock outs, cessation of alcohol service 30 minutes before closing time, drink purchase limits after midnight and ten minute alcohol sale 'time outs' every hour after midnight.

The Bureau found that the incidence of assault on the 48 licensed premises upon which restrictions were imposed declined, but the decline was not restricted to these premises. Nor did it coincide with the imposition of restrictions.

A general decline in the number of assaults on licensed premises occurred across the top 100 licensed premises listed on the BOCSAR website, beginning around March 2008.

The falls were found to occur in both aggravated and common assault and were particularly strong in the 'after-midnight' time period.

Prior to this point, the total number of assaults recorded by police on the top 100 licensed premises was increasing, reached a peak of around 200 assaults per month in late 2007.

By June this year, the number of assaults on the top 100 licensed premises had fallen to around 100 assaults per month. No corresponding change in the number of assaults on licensed premises occurred among licensed premises outside the top 100.

To test whether the owners/managers/staff of the top 100 licensed premises had simply become less willing to report assault, the Bureau examined the percentage of assaults reported by owners/managers/staff on these premises each quarter between Jan-Mar 2008 and Apr-Jun 2009.

No evidence emerged that owners/managers/staff of licensed premises had become less willing to report assaults to police.

Commenting on the reasons for the decline in assaults on the top 100 licensed premises since March 2008, the Director of the Bureau said they were probably the result of a combination of factors.

"The first public listing of the top 100 licensed premises in terms of assault occurred in that month."

"Three days later, in response to public disturbance complaint lodged by NSW Police with the former Liquor Administration Board in July 2007, the Board imposed unprecedented restrictions 1 on a number of licensed premises operating in the Newcastle CBD. These events were the subject of extensive publicity. They were later followed by vigorous enforcement action." 2

"All of these factors would have put pressure on the top 100 licensed premises to serve alcohol more responsibly."

Further enquiries: Don Weatherburn: 0419-494-408, 9231-9190,
Copies of the report:

1 The restrictions included a 1.00AM lockout and 3.00AM closure, limits on the sale of certain types of alcohol beverages and a requirement to cease selling alcohol 30 minutes before closing.
2 In July 2008, changes to the Liquor Act 2007 granted powers to the Director of the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing to vary or revoke existing liquor licenses, allowing the Director to more effectively deal with problematic premises. Around the same time, NSW Police established the Alcohol and Licensing Enforcement Command, a unit of 30 staff with an operational focus on reducing alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour.