The Star casino at Darling Harbour in the Sydney suburb of Pyrmont. “Not a big increase”: BOCSAR director Dr Don Weatherburn. Photo: Quentin Jones
Assaults have risen at the Star Casino since lockout restrictions were brought into nearby Kings Cross and CBD, but only at the rate of two a month, a report has found.
The study appears to disprove one line of criticism used by opponents of the lockout laws: that their main effect would be to simply displace revellers and violence and extend it to other suburbs.
“It’s not a big increase,” said the head of the state’s Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Don Weatherburn. “The increase that’s happened [at the Star is] nowhere near as big as the decrease that’s happened at Kings Cross and the CBD.”
BOCSAR found the number of assaults at the Star had gone from about five or six a month to about seven to eight.
Dr Weatherburn said the effect of the lockout laws was a drop of about 43 assaults a month within the area affected by the laws.
BOCSAR has previously looked at the rate of assaults in other suburbs outside the lockout area, such as Newtown and Double Bay, and found no increase.
The report measures assaults reported to NSW Police and occurring in the casino precinct, or the block on which the casino stands encompassing nearby sections of street, its entrances and a taxi rank.
The Star accounts for half the assaults in Pyrmont, and it has previously appeared on a list of the most violent licensed premises in NSW. But since 2008 has been exempt from inclusion from the state government’s violent venues scheme, despite likely recording many more assaults than the Ivy nightclub, which has been named the state’s most violent.
The venue’s exemption from the area covered by lockout regulations has been seized upon by opponents of the laws, who have taken to calling the NSW Premier “Casino” Mike Baird.
A spokesman for the casino contended assaults outside its borders and perpetrated by people who had not visited the casino had been counted in the BOCSAR report.
“It is suggested but not proved lockouts have resulted in increased assaults at The Star,” the spokesman said. “Statistically, there is one incident at The Star for every 211,000 visitors”
The bureau also released its broader crime statistics for NSW on Wednesday. It found crime had fallen for the 16th straight year.
“We’ve seen big reductions in motor vehicle theft, break and enter, homicide and robbery,” Dr Weatherburn said. “Rates of those offences are lower than they were 25 years ago.”
The bureau recorded a drop in shooting offences, but found shop stealing had increased 7 per cent. There were double-digit increases in offences relating to possession and use of cocaine and amphetamines, including meth.
“In Sydney we’ve seen 13 increases and 38 decreases in [categories of] crime over the last two years,” he said. “In regional NSW, we’ve seen 13 increases and 12 decreases”.
Robbery in the Hunter region of NSW increased by nearly 50 per cent over the same period.
About 15 per cent of assault victims at the casino are taxi drivers, the report found. More than 70 per cent of victims are casino patrons.
The lockout laws are currently under an independent review by former High Court justice Ian Callinan. He is expected to report his findings in August.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.