Oxford St publicans have called on the newly-formed Sydney Liquor Task Force to review the 2am lock-out system and come up with more effective measures for handling alcohol-related violence.

The state Government, with the City of Sydney Council, this week announced a 12-month freeze on new liquor licences for the Sydney CBD and the formation of the Liquor Taskforce, to be co-chaired by Lord Mayor Clover Moore and Premier Nathan Rees, to tackle alcohol-related crime in the Darlinghurst and Kings Cross areas.

A licence freeze is necessary and will help refine policy measures which may be suitable to extend to other areas in NSW, Moore said.

Fighting alcohol violence is a joint responsibility and success in driving down incidents is dependent on all parties working together.

Made up of state and council organisations including NSW Police, NSW Health Department and the Australian Hotels Association, the taskforce will investigate ways to reduce violence and effectively police the areas.

Oxford St publicans hope the taskforce will review the 2am lock-out which they say has negatively impacted on their businesses.

I’d seriously welcome a review of the policy. It’s been devastating for the gay venues along Oxford St, Stonewall Hotel licensee Craig Bell said.

For my mind, everyone should be on a 2am lock-out or we should be looking at measures that address the small number of people who cause trouble because they have a bad reaction to alcohol.

Bell called for a defined review system of the 48 restricted pubs and clubs.

Arq owner Shadd Danesi wants a thorough investigation of the way assaults at venues are recorded.

These allegations of assault on the premises haven’t been to any court to be tested if they’re true. It’s one person’s view and their word is taken as gospel and an assault is recorded against the venue, he said.

A lot of these hotels shouldn’t be on the list, so there needs to be a review mechanism to get off the list.

Surry Hills Police Commander Superintendent Donna Adney said the 2am lock-out had been a success, but welcomed any approach to curb assaults in the Surry Hills and Darlinghurst areas.

We’ve seen a decrease in the number of assaults reported at the declared premises, so I think the 2am lock-out has been effective, she said. But anything that improves the area is worthwhile, whether that be about a focus on licensed premises or a focus on responsible service of alcohol or the personal responsibility of people consuming alcohol.

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