The Imperial Hotel Erskineville has been ordered to shut for a second time due to ongoing licence breaches.

The venue was initially ordered to shutdown late last month for a 72 hour period following an approved application to the Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority.

The Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) together with the NSW Police applied for the application following a range of serious breaches detected at the venue in June during a targeted operation. Police observed bar staff openly consuming illicit drugs while performing their duties, numerous intoxicated and drug affected patrons were detected, and inspectors were offered illicit drugs.

Following the shutdown, the operators of the Hotel decided to implement ‘lockout law style restrictions’ of its own accord. The venue – which operates outside of the Sydney CBD lockout zone – communicated the changes to newsletter subscribers on Thursday 2 July which stipulated that it will be implementing a “no pass outs” rule from 1am, and that no new punters will be able to enter the venue after 3am.

However on Saturday 25 July, Troy Grant, the deputy premier of NSW Minister for Justice and Police announced that the venue would be ordered to close for a second time from 7pm on Friday 24 July until 7pm on Monday 27 July. The second temporary closure followed inspections by OLGR and the NSW Police force over the past two weeks where ongoing drug dealing and illicit drug use, multiple intoxicated patrons and the serving of alcohol to intoxicated patrons was observed. The short term closure was ordered by the Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority following an application by OLGR.

“Operating a licensed venue in NSW is a privilege, not a right, and those abusing it will face the consequences,” Grant said. “I make no apologies for this Government taking strong and necessary action to protect the community, which we are doing on several fronts including lockout laws and three strikes. Liquor laws in NSW have never been stronger.’’

The second closure of the Imperial Hotel follows a number of serious actions taken by the NSW Government this year to combat licensed venues that are opening flouting the law. These include closing the Royal Hotel in Temora for 28 days after alcohol was served to a minor – the first 28-day closure in NSW – and banning two former Kings Cross bar operators from holding liquor licences for life – also a first for NSW.

Issues detected at the Imperial Hotel Erskineville include:

  • Open drug dealing, including a male patron approached by multiple people next to the dance floor to exchange money for white powder.
  • Bar staff serving alcohol to intoxicated patrons, including a man presenting at the bar unsteady on his feet and with a spilt drink covering his shirt, and a woman with a blank expression swaying from side to side.
  • Numerous intoxicated patrons, including patrons falling asleep in chairs, slumped against walls, stumbling on the dance floor, and having to be helped to stand or walk.
  • Poor engagement by staff in dealing with intoxication. One male patron was observed licking a spilt drink off the hotel floor as a Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) marshal watched and laughed without taking action.
  • A continuing pattern of intoxicated patrons becoming aggressive to security and police after being asked to leave, creating a risk of alcohol-related violence and antisocial behaviour.
  • Lax security standards, including inconsistent checks of patrons entering the premises. Guards were observed checking IDs of only female patrons, scanning only the pockets of male patrons, and using a venue drug detection dog inconsistently. A female patron assaulted a security guard but it was not reported to police.

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