Licensed venues in the Richmond Local Area Command are being warned to adopt strict responsible service of alcohol, security and ID checking procedures after a covert operation detected unacceptable levels of intoxication and other liquor law breaches.
The NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing’s Strategic Enforcement Branch and police from the Richmond LAC inspected 10 licensed venues in Lismore, Ballina, Evans Head and Lennox Head last Thursday and Friday nights.
The operation was part of the Richmond Alcohol Response Taskforce launched in February to cut alcohol-related assaults by reducing intoxication in licensed venues.
A total of nine intoxicated patrons were detected in four licensed venues during the operation.
Four intoxicated patrons were found in one Lismore licensed venue over the two-night operation. Two police officers were assaulted inside this venue on Thursday night, and three patrons have been charged.
A 17-year-old male was found in a restricted area in another licensed venue in Lismore during the operation.
Another Lismore licensed venue was caught breaching the NSW Liquor Industry’s Code of Practice by engaging in irresponsible serving practices that encourage rapid intoxication. The venue was serving a cocktail with up to six varieties of liquor, and failed to make low-alcohol beverages available for sale. A bar worker at this venue will face a $550 fine for serving an intoxicated patron.
Three licensed venues will face prosecution in the NSW Licensing Court as a result of the operation.
Director of Liquor and Gaming Albert Gardner warned licensees in the Richmond LAC to adopt stringent practices to detect fake IDs, reduce intoxication and provide adequate security.
Mr Gardner said the level of intoxication in local licensed venues was unacceptable and resulted in acts of violence and anti-social behaviour.
“The results of this operation are disappointing to say the least,” Mr Gardner said.
“Licensees must ensure that they operate their venues responsibly and comply with the law.
“Licensed venues must adopt measures to ensure the responsible service and consumption of alcohol, keep minors out and reduce alcohol-related anti-social behaviour.
“The Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing staged a series of workshops and audits in February to help licensees and their staff improve compliance with the liquor laws.
“Licensed venues should be using blacklight testing devices to detect fake or altered IDs. There are literally hundreds of internet sites offering bogus IDs including driver’s licences and national student cards so it is essential that venue staff are extra vigilant.
“Licensed venues should also be employing Responsible Service of Alcohol marshals to monitor bar queues, patron behaviour and consumption levels.
“Discount food, half-price soft drinks, free bottles of water and the promotion of low-alcohol beverages are other ways to reduce intoxication and the associated anti-social behaviour.
“Venues should also consider voluntary bans on shots and high-alcohol ready-to-drink beverages particularly after midnight as these liquor products are directly contributing to high levels of intoxication particularly at late night venues.
“We want people to have a good time but they must do it responsibly.”
The NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing also conducted a two-day training session for police from the Richmond LAC last Wednesday and Thursday.
Mr Gardner said 25 general duties police officers attended the training at Lismore police station to boost their skills in liquor law enforcement, including detecting breaches, dealing with licensees and patrons, and current industry trends.