Kings Cross ‘blitz’ to include ID scanners & drug dogs
NSW Police will be able to deploy drug sniffer dogs on Kings Cross streets and across the entire metropolitan rail network without a warrant as part of the state government’s response to the fatal assault on teenager Thomas Kelly in Kings Cross.
The Premier, Barry O’Farrell, announced a range of new measures today, including a three-year ban on new liquor licences in the area and the introduction of ID scanners for more than 150 licensed venues in Kings Cross, Potts Point and Elizabeth Bay.
An extra 50 police will be deployed on Friday and Saturday nights to Kings Cross, Mr O’Farrell said. The Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, announced extra night time bus services from Kings Cross to the city to link up with existing Night Ride services.
An extra six services an hour will operate to Central Station, while buses will operate between Kings Cross and Town Hall four times an hour. A sobering-up centre for the Kings Cross precinct will also be trialled. But the government has stopped short of winding back late trading hours for Kings Cross venues or imposing “lock-outs”, despite calls from alcohol researchers, police and emergency services workers.
However, Mr O’Farrell said lock-outs remained “on the table” if the measures did not drive down alcohol-related violence in Kings Cross. “We will monitor the progress of this package and if there isn’t improvement, those options will again be considered,” he said. Mr O’Farrell said the new measures were designed to “try and ensure that people are able to come to Kings Cross and safely have a good night out in what should be a vibrant entertainment part of a global city”.
The Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, welcomed the increased ability of police to deploy drug sniffer dogs across Kings Cross and the rail network.
He said that officers now needed to swear an affidavit before a magistrate to deploy sniffer dogs and this needed to be co-ordinated with any warrants that were required. The changes were a “red-tape removal strategy”, Mr Scipione said.
“What will it mean for people on the trains? I think if you were to talk to most passengers on the trains, they’re quite happy to share a carriage with somebody who is not drug affected or carrying drugs or in the process of going to pick up drugs,” he said.
What that will mean is with enforcement by our drug dog unit you’ll see that people will be detected and sooner or later they’ll get the message – don’t get on the network or you’ll get caught.”
Mr Scipione said there would be no base increase in police presence at Kings Cross.
“These extra police are dealing with whatever might arise as a result of activities of people in this area at certain times and on certain nights,” he said.
Mr O’Farrell said the introduction of ID scanning for venues would prevent people who are ejected from one venue from entering another one down the road. “The point here is that what can currently happen is that someone can be ejected from one venue for being objectionable, for being anti-social, and simply roll down the street into another venue,” Mr O’Farrell said.
“Under this system that would be stopped … so that someone could be banned from a premise for the night [or] for a longer period”. He said protection of personal information would be “critical” to the government and the NSW Privacy Commissioner would be “central” to putting the system together. The Kings Cross Liquor Accord Association offered its “broad support” for the announcements.
“These measures are in line with those the accord has been calling for to improve Kings Cross street security,” its chief executive, Doug Grand, said. “These measures have been deemed tough but necessary, and Kings Cross restaurants and bars will work with government to implement them in a way that is fair and sensible.” But Mr Grand said more discussion was required on the proposed alcohol restrictions for Kings Cross venues.
The government has proposed measures including a ban on shots and glass after midnight on Friday and Saturdays and is expected to announce its decision as early as tomorrow. “A recent business survey showed these measures would cost local Kings Cross restaurants and bars more than $1 million a month,” Mr Grand said.