A Queensland MP says a new initiative to tackle drunken violence will be measured by hospital admissions, not arrest rates.
When fewer Queenslanders turn up to emergency departments broken and beaten after a night of drinking and partying, the state government will herald its tough new crackdown on revellers a success.
In fact, Brisbane Central MP Robert Cavallucci says a drop in the number of emergency admissions will be the official measure of how effective the government’s Safe Night Out strategy, to begin on Friday night, will be.
The $44.5 million initiative will see an increased police presence on weekend nights in 15 designated party precincts, including the Brisbane CBD, Fortitude Valley, Surfers Paradise, Townsville and Cairns.
Officers, including 150 on the beat in Brisbane precincts on Friday night, will have increased powers, including the ability to issue on-the-spot fines for anti-social behaviour, ranging from $660 to almost $7000.
They will also be able to refer revellers to a drunk tank known as the Sober Safe Centre, and charge them for the cost of being looked after by officers and a nurse.
Mr Cavallucci, who chairs the Safe Night Out implementation panel, said on Friday he would not be monitoring arrest statistics too closely.
“It’s not really an indicator of the success of a strategy in relation to reducing alcohol-related violence,” he told reporters.
“The number of presentations to emergency departments is.”
Queensland police Assistant Commissioner Peter Martin said while his officers would have stronger powers, they would not use them unless required.
Officers on the beat wouldn’t have to meet arrest quotas either, he said.
“We are about public safety – it is our number one, two and three strategy,” Mr Martin said.
“We want to work with the business community and we want to work with revellers.”
SAFE NIGHT OUT PRECINCTS
* Cairns CBD
* Townsville CBD
* Airlie Beach CBD
* Mackay CBD
* Rockhampton CBD
* Gladstone CBD
* Bundaberg CBD
* Sunshine Coast
* Brisbane (Caxton St, Fortitude Valley and CBD)
* Toowoomba CBD
* Ipswich CBD
* Gold Coast (Broadbeach CBD and Surfers Paradise CBD)
(Source: Queensland Government)