This is Melbourne at night: 'anarchy'

Feb 23, 2008, The Age:

ALMOST three-quarters of Melburnians think the city is becoming more violent, an Age/Nielsen poll has found.

And as concerns grow about alcohol-fuelled assaults in the CBD, the Australian Hotels Association has taken the unprecedented step of calling for a freeze on new bars and nightclubs in the city centre.

The Police Association is also demanding its members be armed with Taser stun guns to combat a sharp rise in assaults on police. And health experts are calling for a review of Victoria's drinking laws, which have paved the way for the development of several "super clubs" such as CQ Bar on Queen Street, which is licensed for 6170 patrons.

Police Association assistant secretary Inspector Bruce McKenzie said the force was under siege and increasingly forced to use capsicum spray to quell brawls in the city.

"As far as capsicum spray goes, I don't know what our members ever did without it, because we use gallons of the stuff," Mr McKenzie said ...

The Age poll, taken over the past week, found 72% of Melbourne residents believe violence is increasing in the city, while 12% think it is decreasing ...

Police have regularly complained of "alcohol-fuelled anarchy" in Melbourne's crowded late-night strip, which has angered city residents and caused regrets for the architect of Victoria's drinking laws, Professor John Nieuwenhuysen.

"This is definitely not what I had in mind," he said. "I was looking to promote a more European, civilised style of drinking, but we seem to have been swept away by a wave of binge drinking. 'These places that disgorge thousands of people onto the streets are inherently dangerous." ...

The AHA's Mr Kearney said there was growing violence among young people as late night crowds in the CBD soared past 300,000 each weekend. He said most assaults occurred outside premises when people were refused entry.

He said there was recently a riot near Alluva Bar in Bourke Street, involving more than 60 people. Violence erupted in front of the bar again last Saturday night, when more than 20 policed dispersed an angry crowd after a brawl inside the venue ...

National Drug Research Institute data reveals that the rates of alcohol-related hospitalisations in Victoria have tripled over the past decade and violence was a major contributing factor.

"Melbourne and Victoria are always used to support the deregulation argument, but the state has gone from the second lowest in terms of alcohol attributable hospital visits to three times the national average," said the institute's senior alcohol policy researcher, Dr Tanya Chikritzhs.

Over the past financial year there were more than 2000 assaults on Melbourne's streets — a 17% jump from the previous year and a 24% rise since 2003-04, according to police data.

There has also been an alarming increase in the number of assaults against police. This has led to far more compensation claims by officers in Region 1, which includes the CBD and several inner-city suburbs. More than 270 police in Region 1 took 8229 days off because of injury and stress last financial year.

Inspector Stephen Mutton identified several hot-spots, including Flinders Lane and Queen and King streets. "Alcohol is a huge problem for us, not just in the city, but the whole community," he said. "Responsibility has to start with the individual." ...
Alcohol, alcohol, alcohol. Three Age journalists and they still couldn't acknowledge the obvious that Neil Mitchell stated: "There have always been drunks and thugs. But the mood has changed.". The Age: three journalists and a one-track mind. They're not even interested in what has changed the mood. Wakey, wakey, take a look in your photo: angry black kid.

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