There were a reported five glassings in Sydney over the weekend. Only one occurred after 2am. One happened as early as 9.30pm and another two before midnight.

Despite the horror stories, the number of perpetrators involved in these crimes is tiny -” there are a few thousand such attacks in NSW each year. Many are committed by repeat offenders and many of these are involved in other forms of antisocial and violent behaviour as well.

They are the same self-styled hard men and wanna-be gangsters involved in street racing and road rage incidents, in muggings, stabbings, and acts of petty vandalism.

Booze may embolden them but it doesn’t put the hate in their heads. Nor are they victims of the demon drink as some health experts would have us believe. They are simply nihilistic thugs who have never been made to control their tempers in their entire lives or think about the consequences of their actions.

By all means expand alcohol-free zones, and lockouts may be useful in some cases. But there are other things we can try before shutting the entire state at 2am. What about banning offenders from pubs and clubs as part of parole conditions and sentencing agreements? How about mandatory anger management classes?

What about education campaigns to teach young people about the real life consequences of violence -” that unlike in the movies, a punch to the face may just as easily lead to a manslaughter charge as a bloody nose, and that a stab wound without speedy medical attention will more often be deadly than not?

And what about actually jailing some of the footballers so many of these thugs look up to, instead of slapping them on the wrist when they commit serious crimes or riot on the field.

Most effective of all, how about putting undercover cops on major entertainment strips and in problem venues to catch the bad behaviour at its worst? As for smashed idiots who gather in public places like Taylor Square after a long night on the piss, there are a range of nuisance charges that can be used to take individuals off the street or move them on, if police are only prepared to take action.

Unfortunately, there isn’t the manpower available in NSW for this sort of intensive policing. That so many officers are out chasing marijuana and ecstasy users (the two drugs associated with the least amount of violence in this country) may be part of the problem.

When we base our laws around the behaviour of the most irresponsible in society, it’s the responsible majority who pay the price.

A 2am closing will only lead to excessive drinking before throwing the good and the bad out into the street together.

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