Assaults have increased in areas around the Kings Cross and Sydney CBD lockout precincts, a new study by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) has found.

The latest report examines the effects of the ‘lockout laws’, which were introduced in January 2014, by analysing police recorded non-domestic assaults over the period January 2009 to September 2016. This extends the time period examined in previous reports by 15 months.

Separate analyses of trends in non-domestic assault were examined in four separate areas:

  • The Kings Cross and CBD entertainment precincts;
  • A ring of suburbs contiguous with these precincts, called the proximal displacement area;
  • A group of four popular nightspots within easy reach of the Kings Cross and CBD entertainment precincts (Newtown, Coogee, Bondi, Double Bay), called the distal displacement area;
  • The rest of NSW (excluding the areas just mentioned).

The Kings Cross and CBD entertainment precincts continue to show downward trends in non-domestic assault, down 48.7 percent and 12.6 percent respectively. Conversely, non-domestic assaults in the proximal displacement area and distal displacement area increased by 12 percent and 17 percent respectively.

However, the reduction in the combined Kings Cross and CBD precincts (930 fewer non-domestic assaults) was greater than the increase in the combined proximal and distal displacements areas (299 more non-domestic assaults).

Non-domestic assaults continued to decline in the rest of NSW following the introduction of the lockout laws.

Commenting on the findings, the director of BOCSAR, Dr Don Weatherburn, said that it looks as if the effects of the lockout laws have not yet fully played out.

“It remains the case, however, that the decline in assaults in Kings Cross and the Sydney CBD is still much larger than the increase in assaults in the displacement areas,” he said.

The lockout laws have been the mired in controversy since their introduction, with many businesses, including The Keystone Group, blaming the legislation in part for their closures.  

In December 2016 the Callinan Review recommended that some elements of the law would be relaxed, and in January 2017 the NSW government implemented changes including a two year trial of a later 2am lockout and 3:30am last drinks.

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