Sydney’s assault rate has continued falling since the introduction of lockout laws but it’s not clear whether the two are linked, a leading crime expert says.
The decline in non-domestic incidents both generally and in relation to licensed premises was well underway before last February’s new laws, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research deputy director Jackie Fitzgerald says.
However, the bureau is yet to finish analysing data to figure out whether the decrease is just a continuation of the pre-existing trend or a consequence of the laws.
Ms Fitzgerald made the comments while addressing industry delegates during a panel discussion at Sydney’s three-day Electronic Music Conference in Kings Cross on Thursday.
Much of the session focused on the impact of the laws, instituted following the violent deaths of two young men on the popular entertainment strip – Thomas Kelly in 2012 and Daniel Christie last New Year’s Eve.
Independent state MP Alex Greenwich told the audience he opposed the lockout laws largely for the rushed way in which they came through.
“We were actually brought back from a holiday break to come to parliament to vote in these laws without any consultation,” he said.
“The sector had not been consulted, the live music industry had not been consulted, the venues had not been consulted, the local councils had not been consulted.”
Mr Greenwich said if the government had worked with venues to implement the laws over a period of time, businesses would have been able to adjust.
He said he would like to see the 1.30am lockout gone and 3am last drinks kept in place, with the lockout used as a penalty against venues not practising responsible service.
Marketing manager of Kings Cross’ World Bar Clint O’Hanlon said the venue had lost about 20 per cent turnover in the first week of the lockout.
“It happened so fast we had a hard time flowing with it. I’m sure if we had a bit more lead time we probably could have future-proofed a little better,” he said.