ID Scanners vs Early Lockouts

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Case Study ID Scanners vs Early Lockouts

ID Scanners and the Newcastle Model

Newcastle King Street Hotel

The real reason the ‘Newcastle Model’ is a success!

Impose harsh lockouts and restrictions on venues with the enforcement of 3am last drinks although sure the venues may still trade until their licence states but lets face no more service of alcohol means no income, with 10 or 15 staff members taking casual double time rates plus the DJ / Entertainment and outgoings why would any of these venues continue to trade until early hours of the morning while running at a loss?

After all the talk down lately regarding the effectiveness of ID Scanners vs Restrictions/Early Lockouts, in the following case study we’ve outline the results recorded from the venues that rolled out Scannet ID Scanners as part of the Newcastle Entertainment Precinct.  We analyze the different statistical data before, during and after these periods and the results come as not shock to us.

For those that claim there is no evidence that ID scanners are effective, here is a starting point for you our evidence displayed here gives a clear indication as to the time period ALL venues in Newcastle involved in the NEP started dropping off the shameful “Most Violent Venues List”.  We have to conclude that it seems restricting trade and imposing lockouts had very little or almost no effect on Newcastle’s reduction in late night violence. One thing for sure is that using ID Scanners we make people accountable for their actions something the restrictions and lockouts cannot ever do!

So why are they wasting time talking about restrictions / lockouts for Sydney?  Without accountability restrictions and lockouts are useless.

  • The majority of law-abiding people punished by the actions of a small minority.
  • Loss of freedom of choices
  • Increased operational costs for venues, which will be passed on to the patron.
  • Loss of revenue and business for venues.
  • Door staff (cashiers, greeters etc) having their hours of work cut back at least 10 hours per week.
  • Loss of hospitality jobs.
  • Hospitality staff unable to go out after work.

Newcastle Data

Case Study

Alcohol Consumption in NSW

Over 3.7 million adults (78%) in NSW consume alcohol.  Of these, 25% or 969,000 people consume alcohol at least three times a week.  The majority (55%) of NSW drinkers consume one or two standard drinks on a typical occasion, compared to 43% who drink three or more standard drinks on a typical occasion and a further 1% who are unsure. The proportion of people in NSW consuming three or more standard drinks on a typical occasion is significantly below the national average of 50%.  Over one-third (36%) of NSW drinkers (or almost 1.4 million people) drink to get drunk.     This data is illustrated in the chart below:

Annual Alcohol Poll Snapshot

Chart source:  “Annual Alcohol Poll Snapshot: New South Wales.”  Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education.  2013.

If the number of NSW drinkers who consume multiple drinks on drinking occasions is below the national average, there is an obvious amount of fairness that needs to be recognized when attempting to curb the actions of the more aggressive or violent drunks.  Simply reducing the total available socializing and drinking hours at venues for a group of people who, on average drink less often than the national average isn’t just unfair, it doesn’t make sense either.

Factor in the taxpayer dollars it costs to restrict these taxpayers, and it makes even less sense.  People tend to get upset and speak up when their money is spent in a way that restricts their life.  Oh, and some of these taxpayers also own the venues whose income is solely derived from liquor sales.  They’re paying taxes to have their own tavern close early and decrease the size of their paychecks and tax returns.  Some of them even have to tell their responsible friends they have to leave early from now on, new government rules, sorry pal.

It’s understood that something needs to be done to curb the number of assaults that occur due to excessive alcohol consumption.  People deserve to enjoy their drinks in a safe, comfortable atmosphere.  “Bad apples” really can spoil it for everyone.  Someone can get hurt, too, when alcohol is involved.

According to a 2013 report entitled “Annual Alcohol Poll Snapshot: New South Wales,” more than half (59%) of NSW drinkers consume alcohol before going to a pub, club or bar, a behavior known as ‘preloading.’  Of these, 30% consume about the same amount of alcohol or more before going out than while they’re out.  NSW drinkers who preload are primarily motivated by saving money (45%), followed by socializing (39%) and relaxation (31%).

There’s nothing wrong with trying to save money.  But, when people drink at home before going to a venue to save money, it follows that if they’re going to have too much to drink, it’s going to be at a liquor-serving establishment, not at their home.  This is a fundamental matter of personal responsibility.  A person needs to curb their own alcohol consumption; it’s not a tavern’s job to close early.  That in no way contributes to increased personal responsibility.

People that have already consumed half or more of their alcohol intake for the evening before entering a venue are the prime cause in alcohol-fueled assaults.  People who have had 7 drinks are not nicer, calmer and more reasonable than that of a person who has had one or two drinks.  They are the more aggressive and unreasonable ones.  They are the ones that create the unsafe environment for the more responsible than average citizens.

These folks who drink or get drunk before visiting a tavern are also more likely to cause trouble on the way there and the return home, too.  The top two places where alcohol-fueled assaults occur are in a public place and on a licensed venue, as shown in the chart below:

Dealing with alcohol-related

Chart source:  “Dealing with alcohol-related harm and the night-time economy.”  National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund.  2012.

Increased personal responsibility comes from an individual’s decision-making.  If they know a venue is closed, they’ll just go purchase additional liquor at a store.  Thus, the drinking has not been curbed.  However, if a person has been banned for 3 or more months from the taverns he or she attempts to enter, they are more likely to stay at home in the first place.  While it doesn’t necessarily reduce alcohol consumption, it reduces the number of offenders that are likely to cause alcohol-fuelled assaults in public.

The Newcastle Model

The “Newcastle model” and the claimed 37% drop in assault figure is used again and again to call for more restrictions in more places across NSW – all without having a close look at the BOCSAR figures and what the evidence tells us.

Violence on licensed premises are at their lowest levels in well over a decade, while some Newcastle venues remain on the Government’s most violent premises list.

In the year to March 2008, there had been 304 assaults in and around licensed premises in Newcastle. A year later, the impact saw 233 assaults in and around licensed premises in Newcastle – a fall of 23.4 per cent compared to the 2008 figure.

However, what is never mentioned is that in the year leading to March 2010, there were 282 assaults in and around Newcastle licensed premises – an increase of 21 per cent from 2009.  This data is illustrated in the graph below:

Assults

Chart source:  lastdrinks.org

The important thing to realize is that the number of assaults has increased significantly three times since measures were imposed in 2008 and enforced during 2009 and 2010.  As alcohol-fuelled assaults have approximately equaled the pre-measure level, it isn’t clear that the measures have been working to begin with.

Patrons at these venues would know- they are there, and some of them may have even been the victim or aggressor in the assaults at one time or another.  A July 10, 2012 poll was taken by the Newcastle Herald which asked “Will the pub ban system reduce violence in the Newcastle CBD?”  Up to 69.7% of respondents answered “Yes, zero tolerance is the way to go for troublemakers.”  Only 30.3% answered “No, earlier closing times is the only way to prevent alcohol-fuelled antisocial behavior.”

Perhaps this is pointing out the obvious, but closing a venue isn’t a form of tolerance or lack of it for troublemakers.  People that frequent these venues say closing a venue early doesn’t make a difference when it comes to weeding out the troublemakers.  91% of Newcastle patrons are aware of these restrictions on venues, and over 97% of them know that the venues are closing earlier.  This data is represented in the following chart:

night-time economy

Chart source: “Dealing with alcohol-related harm and the night-time economy.”  National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund.  2012.

A further indication that closing venues early isn’t solving incidents can be seen by statistics relating to hospitalizations due to alcohol consumption.  Hospitalizations during peak midnight to 5:59 am hours on weekends also shows an increase in alcohol-related incidents after venue restrictions were imposed in 2008.

Of the top 3 years of incidents since 2005, one of these peak years is after restrictions were imposed on venues.  This was in the 4th quarter of 2008, after heightened restrictions were in effect.  Peak years and data reflecting hospitalizations due to alcohol-related incidents prior to and after the imposed restrictions can be viewed using the graph below:

 Figure 3       Rate of injury-related to Newcastle emergency department attendance per

                    10,000 during high alcohol hours of Saturday and Sunday morning, midnight to 5:59 am

Adapted from miller

Graph source: “Strategies to reduce alcohol abuse among young people in New South Wales” by the New South Wales. Parliament. Legislative Council. Standing Committee on Social Issues.  December 2013.

While not all hospitalizations are due to alcohol-fuelled assaults at venues, it’s not because of car crashes from drunk drivers, either.  The number of persons killed from drinking drivers has decreased overall since the 2005 figures mentioned in the previous graph.  Interestingly, in 2008, just as the number of hospitalizations spiked to the 3rd highest level since 2005, it’s a year in which alcohol-related deaths were one of the fewest since the early 1980’s, much less since restrictions were placed on venues.  This data is represented graphically in the chart below:

killed from Drink Driving

Chart source:  “Strategies to reduce alcohol abuse among young people in New South Wales” by the New South Wales. Parliament. Legislative Council. Standing Committee on Social Issues.  December 2013.

If there is an increase in 2008 of alcohol-related hospitalizations and a decrease in persons killed from alcohol-related crashes during the same year, the alcohol-related incidents must be attributed to something else.  A spike in the number of alcohol-related assaults in nightlife venues during the same time period is one such alternative.

Approximately one in 3 drinkers (31%) visits at least 2 venues when they go out.  Additionally, patrons are visiting these venues weekly more often that monthly (28.2%).  Add in the fact that 12.6% of people go out to drink more than once a week, and that totals 43.6% of drinkers that go out at least once each week.

If a poll were taken of 100 people, over half of them would say they consume alcohol before they go out.  Roughly half of them will drink at a public venue and 31 of them will visit more than one venue.  This data can be seen using the chart below, taken from the National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund.

night-time economy

It’s no surprise, then, that 21.2% of people admit to being refused service each month when drunk.  This doesn’t even take into account the people who were too embarrassed to admit that they have.

Chart source: “Dealing with alcohol-related harm and the night-time economy.”  National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund.  2012.

The Newcastle Entertainment Precinct and ID Scanners

During 2009, restrictions imposed on hotels reduced the number of alcohol-fuelled assaults.  However, this apparently didn’t do any good.  The next year, in 2010, assaults at nightlife venues increased 21%.  Government imposed restrictions on venues and then the results reverted back to where they were before there were restrictions to begin with.  Meanwhile, responsible patrons are required to go home early, or not go out at all, depending on what time they can go out and enjoy the nightlife.  Hotels and taverns are losing unnecessary income, too.  These restrictions aren’t demonstrating transparent results.

It wasn’t until nightlife venues began cooperating with one another using strategic initiatives that alcohol-fuelled assaults showed the decrease and results the government had intended to achieve.  The decrease in alcohol related incidents occurred because cooperating hotels and nightlife venues began using ID scanners.

The Newcastle Entertainment Precinct (NEP) is a company established by five major late night entertainment venues within the Newcastle CBD, including Fanny’s of Newcastle, MJ Finnegans, Queens Wharf Brewery, The Cambridge Hotel and King Street Hotel.

ID scanners are used to ban patrons from going to a different venue after they have already been barred from another.  Participating venues communicate with one another using these scanners.  Once an ID or name of a patron has been banned, all participating venues receive this notice and know not to allow the would-be patron to enter their premises.  This has a significant effect on curbing assaults in their venues.

Behavior of an anti-social nature will result in banning from the host venue with penalties ranging from 3 months to an indefinite period.

Depending on the severity of anti-social behavior, patrons may be banned from all participating venues.

Banned patrons will have the opportunity to apply to NEP asking for their ban to be reviewed. NEP will review the ban’s validity and severity in accordance with NEP Policies and advise the patron of the outcome of this review.

Newcastle City Police Commander, Superintendent John Gralton said the introduction of the Newcastle Entertainment Group Barring Policy was a step in the right direction. “I welcome and support the introduction of any initiative aimed at curbing alcohol-related violence in the city of Newcastle.”

Three Newcastle venues recorded 11 incidents to fall just below the threshold of 12 incidents required for naming on the violent venues list.  Fanny’s and MJ Finnegans were both Level 1 violent venues in December 2012 after recording 28 and 21 violent incidents respectively over the previous 12 month period. Now they have dropped off the list altogether.

MJ Finnegan’s

From July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009, MJ Finnegan’s was not listed on the government’s violent venues list.  However, the following year, from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2010, 19 assaults occurred at their establishment, placing them on the violent venues list.  This is two years after restrictions were imposed on late night venues.

Then, in 2011 another increase in assaults occurred.  From January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011, 31 assaults took place at MJ Finnegan’s.  It’s no surprise that the venue took action, purchasing an ID scanner in August of that year.

In 2012, after purchasing an ID scanner, only 7 assaults were recorded for the establishment.  They are no longer on the violent venues list.

Fanny’s now (The Argyle House)

From July 2007 to June 2008, Fanny’s was not listed on the violent venues list.  In the period between July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009, 17 assaults occurred at the establishment.  During the following year, 25 assaults were recorded at Fanny’s.  In 2011, the venue increased again to 30 assaults.   This is during a period in which restrictions had recently been implemented and supposedly reduced violent incidents.  In February 2012, Fanny’s purchased an ID scanner, and that year, the number of assaults decreased significantly to 11 assaults, representing a 60.7% reduction on the previous list published in December 2012.  The establishment was removed from the violent venues list.

Cambridge Hotel

From July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010, 16 assaults were recorded at the Cambridge Hotel.  During the full 2010 year, 20 assaults occurred at the venue.  This is during a period in which restrictions had recently been implemented and supposedly reduced violent incidents.  In 2011, assaults dropped to 14 and further again to 11 during 2012.  Early in the year, in April 2012, the Cambridge Hotel purchased an ID scanner and was subsequently dropped from the violent venues list.

King’s Street Hotel

During the period between July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009, 14 assaults were registered for the King’s Street Hotel.  For the full year 2009, 17 assaults occurred at their establishment.  During the next year, assaults dropped marginally to 15 assaults but then increased in 2011 to 16 assaults.  King Street Hotel recorded 11 incidents in 2012, representing a 31.3% reduction on the previous list and they disappeared from the violent venues list. This is due to their purchase of an ID scanner in May 2012.

Queen’s Wharf Brewery

During 2009 and 2010, the Queen’s Wharf Brewery was not on the violent venues list.  Then, in 2011, while restrictions were being placed on them, they showed up on the list with 12 assaults.  The venue took action and purchased an ID scanner in June of that year, and were dropped from the violent venues list.  The only recent year the Queen’s Wharf Brewery showed up on the violent venues list, they purchased an ID scanner and were removed from the violent venues list shortly after.

ID Scanners Target Responsibility, not Venue Restrictions

The effect of using these scanners has prompted citizens to exercise personal responsibility.  Barring an intoxicated patron and preventing lewd behavior offers not only an effective means to a goal, it allows for the greater good for the majority of patrons and businesses alike.  Businesses should not have to close early and reduce their revenue because of a handful of people that have had too much to drink, and, likewise, patrons should be able to stay out later when they are behaving responsibly.

Here’s where the scanners become even more relevant:  as 70% of alcohol is purchased away from venues, taverns are not responsible for serving patrons this alcohol, yet they are being restricted as if they are.  A person can drink at home and then show up to an alcohol-serving venue and cause the same drunken behavior.

The 224 incidents attributed to venues on the 2012 list were 60 fewer than on the previous list, representing a 21 per cent reduction and a new record low in the history of the scheme.  13 licensed venues have been removed from the list after their assault rates fell below the threshold of 12 incidents in a year.

The Australian Hotels Association’s John Green states, “Ironically, since the venues took control of their own destiny by introducing voluntary measures, they’ve all dropped off the violent venues list,” he said.

This isn’t irony, it’s responsibility taken by taverns and venues, just as we expect of would-be and existing patrons.

Summary

Violence on licensed premises are at their lowest levels in well over a decade. The most violent premises list, or the “Newcastle model” and the claimed 37% drop in assault figure is used again and again to call for more restrictions in more places across NSW without having a close look at the BOCSAR figures and what the evidence tells us.

The number of assaults has increased significantly three times since measures were imposed in 2008 and enforced during 2009 and 2010.  As alcohol-fuelled assaults have approximately equaled the pre-measure level, it isn’t clear that the measures have been working to begin with.

One measure has clearly been effective- ID scanners and establishments joining together to collectively ban individuals who are not behaving responsibly.  Targeting the significant number of people who drink prior to visiting a tavern is what is working.  Member venues have been falling off the most violent venues list as a result of implementing a scanner-based system to combat this behavior.

It’s time to put stock into what’s working and for venues to take action for safety in their own establishments.  Statistics show that creating new laws doesn’t appear to sufficiently deliver the desired results.

End Report