Banning orders won’t solve alcohol-fuelled violence – but they can be part of the solution

The majority of initiatives introduced to tackle alcohol-related violence in Australia involve limiting alcohol service through licensing, responsible service laws, last-drinks laws, and lockouts.

The option to ban people from drinking in specific premises has always rested with operators and different states’ liquor licensing laws. Several states currently use police banning orders, which focus on offending patrons. Are these the answer to curbing alcohol-fuelled violence?

What are banning orders, and how prevalent are they?

Police banning orders have been used in Queensland since October 2014. They are also used in other Australian states, including New South Wales and Victoria.

In Queensland, police can issue on-the-spot ten-day banning orders to patrons who engage in violent or anti-social behaviour in and around licensed venues.

Banning orders restrict patrons from remaining in or entering:

  • public places within “safe-night precincts”;
  • stated licensed premises; and/or
  • events being held in public places where liquor will be sold.

Breaching a banning order in Queensland can result in fines of up to A$7,314. Repeat offenders or those involved in serious incidents can be issued with an extended banning order of up to three months.

The aim of police banning orders is to deter and reduce violence and anti-social behaviour through immediate expulsion from night-time entertainment precincts and licensed venues.

In 2016, 3,936 people were issued ten-day banning orders across the 15 safe-night precincts in Queensland, according to the Queensland Police Service. These are key entertainment districts across the state that are managed by a board of local venue owners and businesses.

On average, 74 patrons were excluded from safe-night precincts each week. In the Fortitude Valley safe-night precinct alone, police issued 1,057 banning orders in 2016 – an average of 20 per week.

An additional 1,104 people were issued extended banning orders across Queensland. This is an average of 21 per week.

Police banning orders have some potential to minimise harm from violent, intoxicated patrons and prevent more serious criminal charges. However, their effectiveness is largely reliant on the ability of police and licensed venue staff to accurately identify banned individuals and enforce the orders.

(Reprinted from the CONVERSATION – QUT)