Briefing paper

The effect of lockout and last drinks laws on non-domestic assaults in Sydney: an update to March 2019

Alcohol Alcohol harms Liquor licensing Crime Assault and battery Sydney


Aims: To assess the longer-term effects of the 2014 NSW liquor law reforms on levels of violence in the inner Sydney area.

Method: Interrupted time series models were used to examine the effects of the legislative reforms introduced in January 2014. Police recorded non-domestic assaults were analysed over the period January 2009 to March 2019. Separate analyses were carried out for the Kings Cross Entertainment Precinct (KXP); the Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct (CBD); an area contiguous with KXP and CBD called the proximal displacement area (PDA); a group of entertainment areas not far from KXP and CBD called the distal displacement area (DDA) and the rest of NSW.

Results: In the 62-months following the reforms, statistically significant reductions in non-domestic assault incidents occurred in the lockout precincts as a whole (down 13.3%) and in the specific precincts of Kings Cross (down 53%) and the CBD Entertainment Precinct (down 4%). There was evidence of geographical displacement to surrounding areas with increases in non-domestic assault observed in both the PDA (up 18%) and the DDA (up 30%). Over time, the size of the assault reduction in the lockout locations has declined while the increase in assaults in the displacement sites has risen. Despite this, the reforms still delivered an overall reduction in non-domestic assaults over the period February 2014 to March 2019, with an estimated net benefit of 395 fewer non-domestic assault incidents.

Conclusion: While non-domestic assault appears to have reduced in both target precincts after the 2014 liquor law reforms, the effect in the CBD precinct has declined over time. Displacement of violence to surrounding areas should continue to be monitored.

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