Crime in Sydney
Crime in Sydney falls primarily under the jurisdiction of the New South Wales Police and supporting government institutions. Crime in Sydney is very unevenly distributed, with different categories of crime rising and falling in areas as localised as well as wider factors shift. Crime within and around the city centre is mainly focused in the red-light district of Kings Cross and several new strategies have been employed to reduce such crime.
The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) is the main source of NSW crime statistics. It reported in 2007 that eight categories of crime were down, including property offences, while five categories, including murder, were stable, and domestic violence was up. Bureau director, Dr Don Weatherburn, stated that a heroin shortage and a strong job market had contributed to a drop in crime.
The 2007 BOCSAR figures reported that Kings Cross was a hotspot for most major crimes, much in the vein of Times Square in the 1960s-90s. Three areas, Kings Cross, the area around Central railway station, and the section of George Street between Liverpool and Market streets, were hotspots for assaults. The report also identified the period between midnight on Saturday to 6am on Sunday as a time when crime peaked, particularly in those areas. The report also showed that personal offences such as assault peak in December and January.
In 2011 the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research reported that Darlinghurst Road in Kings Cross, Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, King Street in Newtown, Glebe Point Road in Glebe and George Street in the CBD were hotspots for city violence. The BOCSAR report found that 56.8 per cent of assaults in the city centre were within 50 metres (160 ft) of a liquor outlet. The same report found that that each additional alcohol outlet per hectare will result, on average, in 4.5 more assaults a year.
2014 lockout laws
Two alcohol-related deaths, both of which occurred in King's Cross, attracted a large amount of media attention in late 2013/early 2014. The first incident on 7 July 2012 involved the death of 18-year-old Thomas Kelly, who was randomly punched in the head while walking with his girlfriend and speaking on his mobile phone. The second incident resulted in the death of Daniel Christie, who was punched on 31 December 2013 while on a street with his brother Peter; Christie's life support was ceased after 11 days. Following Kelly's death, the state government was pressured to take action in regard to alcohol-related violence and Christie's death led to additional support for the implementation of responsive action.
NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell announced on 21 January 2014 that both the Lower and Upper Houses of parliament had voted in favour of legislation during a special sitting of State Parliament. O'Farrell referred to the new legislation as "pioneering" and the primary measures are:
- Eight-year minimum sentencing for alcohol or drug-related assaults that result in death.
- Serious assault maximum penalty increased by two years, with mandatory minimum sentences.
- "On-the-spot" fines for disorderly behaviour increased from A$200 to A$1,100.
- Police can immediately ban identified 'troublemakers' from the CBD/Kings Cross areas.
- The sentence for steroid possession was increased from two to 25 years.
- CBD/Kings Cross venues will be unable to let in new patrons after 1:30am and the serving of drinks must cease at 3:00am.
- All bottle shops across NSW to close at 10:00pm.
- Small bars, casinos, restaurants and tourist accommodation facilities are exempt from the law.
Although some Opposition Labor members raised concerns over the mandatory sentencing, the legislation received the support of the Opposition. However, Greens MP John Kaye condemned a "knee-jerk" reaction, further stating: "We don't believe there's evidence to justify what they're [NSW State Government] doing."
On 30 January 2014, the government confirmed that the assault laws will be in place from 1 February 2014, while the laws on time frames for venue entrance closures and drink serving will not commence until April 2014. Sydney DJs and nightclub owners raised significant concerns following the announcement of the O'Farrell government, as late-night trading, the target of the new laws, allow their venues to remain financially viable.
- "Sydney's crime hotspots revealed". The Age (Australia). AAP. 9 November 2007. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
- Weatherburn, Don (24 February 2011). "Liquor outlet density and assault" (Press release). NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
- Sally Block (14 November 2013). "Parents of Thomas Kelly 'absolutely horrified' at sentence for king-hit killer Kieran Loveridge". ABC News. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
- "Punch death victim Daniel Christie tried to stay alive, says family". The Australian. 11 January 2014. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
- Leigh Sales (21 January 2014). "'One-punch laws': Sweeping changes to tackle alcohol-fuelled violence in Sydney". ABC News. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
- "One-punch alcohol laws passed by NSW Parliament". ABC News. 31 January 2014. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
- "Sydney's lockout laws have just been passed... and they start this weekend". Faster Louder. Faster Louder Pty Ltd. 30 January 2014. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
- Ehssan Veiszadeh (3 February 2014). "DJs say anti-violence laws will hurt them". Perth Now. Retrieved 4 February 2014.