January 20, 2014

Horse 1596 - Calling Last Drinks

The NSW State Cabinet is meeting today to discuss ways to try and lessen so-called "alcohol fuelled violence". Admittedly media outlets love this sort of thing because they get to put pictures of bloodied people all over nightly news bulletins and on the front pages of newspapers, whilst at the same time writing editorials which are basically hospital handpasses of moral indignation and self-righteousness, because it'd be blatantly and morally stupid to disagree with them. Really it's a advertising gold mine because it combines graphic images with a free chance for pontification, with a giant pat on the back all round.
When it actually comes to providing possible solutions though, it's pretty light on. Maybe a look at the actual statistics will help.

I think that what would be useful would be to collect the postcodes of where the perpetrators come from. It is most definitely worth a look to see the sorts of demographics of people which are likely to cause violence and look for trends.
Police should be asking for incidental information such as whether or not perpetrators are regular gym users and whether or not they're likely to have used steroids. In my job as an accountant, I've noticed that within the last year especially, a notable increase in the amount expended by gyms on repair bills. Admittedly damage  in gyms probably isn't caused by alcohol but are the people who frequent those sorts of places, likely to have marginally higher disposable incomes to spend on alcohol at the weekend? I think that it would be a fair assumption that people who go to gyms are probably stronger and less empathetic of other people due to an increase in vanity.

As the law currently stands, licenced premises are quite rightly, legally required to put people out who are intoxicated, which means that instead of being the licenced premises' problem, those people end roaming the streets; becoming the problem of police officers and anyone else who happens to be walking by. The question then is, where are these people to go?
If we assume that great numbers of people are like water and or electricity, then they should follow the same sorts of rules when it comes to dynamic flow; that is they follow the path of least effort. If most of these coward punches occur in the city and King's Cross after midnight, then it follows that it might be advisable to get more people out of the city after midnight. Yet if you look at the following something strange emerges.

- This goes on and on for T4-T7 too - we are completely surrounded by NO trains.

Between the hours of midnight and 4am, for an area of 1120 square kilometers and approximately 2.73 million people, there is one single train which leaves Central on a Saturday night. At the same time, there is a NightRide service in operation, however people are left at street level whilst they wait for a bus. How does this make any sense? Government buses continue to run of a somewhat limited timetable through the eastern suburbs but if you live anywhere west of the M1/A1 you may as well be living on the surface of Mars.

With all of these people hanging about the CBD, becoming increasingly annoyed and cranky and cold as the effects of alcohol and tiredness begin to take hold, what does the state government expect will happen?

In addition to this, I've already made the irrational assumption that most of the people who are likely to cause violence are likely to come from Sydney's West and South-West for at least three reasons:
1. They're more likely to come from a less well off socio-economic demographic.
2. People in the Northern, Northern Beaches, the East and the South-East are provided with more buses and more trains.
3. Bogans like fights.

Now admittedly I do joke a little bit with point No.3 but it still remains that in the City of Newcastle which has a higher Bogan population than Sydney, alcohol-related violence in Newcastle fell markedly after the imposition of a 1am lockout for all 14 hotels in the CBD and restriction on what could be sold after 11pm. I see no reason why similar campaigns could not be launched in Sydney.
The best policy would simply be to increase the number of trains through the night to get people out of Sydney's CBD and to issue hefty on-the-spot fines for disturbances. Policies such as lockouts which work in Newcastle are also a good idea but the NSW State Government seems to be under the thumb of the NSW Hotels Association on this issue and they're also fearful about potentially passing legislation which would jeopardise the proposed casino in Barangaroo from being built; I suspect that could be the elephant hiding in the corner.

I will suggest that legislation asking to control peoples' behaviour is for the most part pointless, however law exists for three fundamental reasons: the regulation, protection and the standards of society. If society can not be made to control itself, then the law must act to protect it against itself. If it doesn't, we'll continue to see one-hit coward punches and people's skulls cracked open on the pavements.
It's time to call last drinks on violence. I think that the state's had enough.

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