The lockout trial announced by the Surry Hills Police Local Area Command last week and due to start on 1 December makes it abundantly clear that regulatory authorities have completely lost control of the situation on Oxford St and are desperately grasping at solutions in the vain hope to make it appear as if change is on the horizon.

It appears that many of the major venues on Oxford St which primarily serve a gay and lesbian clientele have agreed to the trial. This consensus was no doubt partially motivated by a desire on the part of the licensees of these venues to see real change on Oxford St.

However, no doubt equally persuasive was Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione’s comments earlier this month that he wanted to see all licensed venues shut at 2am to combat the rising problem of alcohol-related violence.

The major problem with this policy is that it will have a disproportionate impact on the LGBTI community, the very people this policy is supposed to assist. It seems ludicrous to punish a group of people who by all accounts do not contribute to the problem at all.

Surely alcohol-related violence is equally a problem on George St and in Kings Cross -” however, these areas are not being subjected to these sorts of draconian measures.

The process by which patrons of nightclubs and pubs are prevented from entering venues after a prescribed time to try and limit alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour is not a new concept. Many regional towns including Newcastle, and metropolitan centres such as Melbourne currently have, or have had, lockouts operating.

The lockout is premised on a mistaken view that preventing people entering a licensed venue after a certain time will mean that the supply of alcohol to already inebriated people will be limited. The fallacy of this assumption becomes clear when the alcohol consumption habits of those responsible for the violence are considered.

The danger with introducing this sort of trial is that it represents the thin edge of the wedge, and before we can blink, the NSW Police Force will be demanding an earlier lockout, or alternatively, the complete shutdown of licensed venues.

What we need is a real solution, not a shallow PR exercise.

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