26 July 2023

Police issue warning after rise in violence and antisocial behaviour in city nightspots

| Ian Bushnell
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Sergeant Max Mokrij from the Territory Targeting Team said police will continue to proactively target Canberra’s entertainment precincts. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Two successive weekends of alcohol and drug-fuelled violence in Civic and Braddon have prompted police to lay down the law to partygoers in the city entertainment precincts.

The Territory Targeting Team and other police resources have had to deal with multiple serious incidents involving intoxicated people the past two Sunday mornings (16 July and 23 July) in and around the city’s pubs, bars and nightclubs.

Sergeant Max Mokrij from the Territory Targeting Team said police dealt with brawling, unprovoked attacks, dancefloor assaults, and at least one sexual assault.

Seargent Mokrij said police had zero tolerance for alcohol-fuelled violence and antisocial behaviour, and would continue to proactively target entertainment precincts.

He said that on one Saturday night and Sunday morning, there were about 24 incidents between midnight and 6 am, which was unusual for this time of year and stretched police resources, requiring backup from officers across the ACT.

He warned potential troublemakers that police would be deployed in force when necessary and that even if they were not visible were only a stone’s throw away.

People should also be aware that their actions would be captured by the many CCTV cameras throughout the city.

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Seargent Mokrij said alcohol and drugs were common factors and police would be working with licensed premises to ensure they served alcohol responsibly, did not serve underage patrons and kept within crowd limits.

“Targeting licensed premises is always an area of focus for us, but also working with them to make sure they know what their obligations are and that they’re aware of how to implement them,” he said.

“Venues have important responsibilities in terms of responsible service of alcohol but ultimately everybody needs to be responsible for making their own decisions in terms of how much they’re going to drink and how they’re going to look after each other.”

In one fight inside a Lonsdale Street premises at about 1:30 am on 16 July, an officer used a Taser to subdue and arrest a 20-year-old man.

While police were dealing with this man, they were called to respond to an alleged sexual assault in Bible Lane in Civic.

A 16-year-old girl, who had been admitted to a Bunda Street nightclub using a fake ID, had allegedly been sexually assaulted by a man in the nightclub and in Bible Lane. Investigations remain ongoing.

While police were speaking to the girl, a group of aggressive men had to be dealt with nearby, and one was arrested.

At about 4 am, a 19-year-old woman was arrested for assaulting her 25-year-old partner in Garema Place, while about this time police also responded to reports of a one-punch assault on the dancefloor of a nightclub on London Circuit.

The following Sunday at about 1 am, police on foot patrol outside a Bunda Street nightclub saw a fight between a 29-year-old man and 23-year-old woman, and the woman was subsequently arrested for assault.

At about 2:50 am, police were called to a London Circuit nightclub following reports three men had assaulted multiple people on the club’s dancefloor. The three men were arrested for affray.

Police on patrol outside the same venue saw a 23-year-old man headbutt another man in a seemingly unprovoked attack at about 3:40 am. The man was arrested and charged with assault, affray and resisting arrest.

Sergeant Mokrij said this was just a snapshot of the many serious incidents police had responded to in two wild weekends with unacceptable levels of violence and antisocial behaviour.

“Everyone should be able to go out and have a good time without fear of being victimised or assaulted or, or having to share the road with impaired road users,” he said.

But people could also do things to stay safe.

“People should be aware of their surroundings, and their level of impairment and how safe they feel being anywhere at any point in time,” Sergeant Mokrij said.

On the number of women arrested, Sergeant Mokrij said excessive drinking and violence weren’t restricted to any gender and it was something police saw across all areas of the community.

He said any sexual assault was very concerning and urged people to report any such incident to police so they could investigate and take action.

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While there were not any serious injuries reported over the two weekends, there well could have been, or worse.

“Any assault can have potentially serious or long-term consequences for anybody really,” he said.

“I mean, one punch can not only kill somebody, but can you give them long-term injuries that they have to deal with.”

Anyone who witnesses violent or anti-social behaviour in our entertainment precincts should contact ACT Policing Operations on 131 444, or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or use the Crime Stoppers ACT website. Information can be provided anonymously. Always call Triple Zero (000) in an emergency.

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I don’t know how those in Blue turn up every shift to deal with this sort of crap. It’s condoned by society as reflected by lack of a resources from government, lack of support from judicial system, and lack of self accountability by perpetrators.

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