Research Shows Lockout Laws Have 'Worked' To Curb Boozy Violence

02/11/2015 12:01 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:50 PM AEST
** ADVANCE FOR THURSDAY, NOV. 27 ** Dr. Gordian Fulde talks about Australia's drink culture in the emergency department of St. Vincent's Hospital in Sydney, Australia Oct. 27, 2008. Australia's government has launched a campaign to crack down on the nation's binge drinking habits, prompting fierce debate among Australians about alcohol's role in their society. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith) ** NO ONLN ** NO IONLN **

It's the hours after midnight that Saturday night staff at St Vincent's Hospital dreaded -- when coward-punch victims and booze-fuelled injuries would arrive.

But emergency department head Gordian Fulde told The Huffington Post Australia new research showed those late-night injuries decreased when Sydney's controversial pub and club lockout laws were put in place.

The research, published on Monday in the Medical Journal of Australia, found 246 patients presented to St Vincent's Hospital with life-threatening alcohol-related injuries in the 12 months after the laws began in 2014.

That was down from 318 patients in the 12 months prior to start of the tough rules, which include banning the service of shots after midnight, a 1.30am to 3.30am lockout at hotels, and outlawing all liquor service from 3am.

“The reduction was most marked in the period after midnight, which corresponds with the main thrust of the changed regulations,” Fulde said.

"In my concept of it, it made fewer people who were totally out of control drunk be on the footpath and that means there were less cranky, hot-and-bothered, people all tightly jammed up.

"The package (has) worked in Kings Cross and the city," Fulde said.

He said there was anecdotal evidence that Royal Prince Alfred hospital had not witnessed a rise in drinking-related injuries, even though more people were going out in nearby Newtown -- outside the area impacted by the laws.

Fulde also said he wasn't seeing more patients with head injuries sustained at places like Coogee, Bondi or Maroubra, despite an increased number of drinkers heading to those spots to escape the lockout.

He said if the laws were to be extended, they needed to be customised to suit each location.

"It's silly putting what works in Kings Cross into another area or country town, that's silly."

There have also been recent moves to extend the laws in Queensland based on the experience in Sydney, but those moves have been met with fierce opposition.

The research also found a 28 percent drop in alcohol-related injuries at peak drinking times on the weekend after the laws kicked in, with that number dropping to just 106 admissions.

The reforms, brought in by former NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell, have been controversial, with claims they have hurt the city's hospitality sector and may have pushed late-night violence into other suburbs.

Recently, the iconic Hugo's Lounge in Kings Cross was forced to close, blaming a big slump in trade on the laws.

Some businesses in the former nightclub precinct are even said to be seeking compensation due to the adverse impact on foot traffic in the area.

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