Extra police officers will be targeting licensed venues throughout the ACT this Saturday night (17 December), with more Canberrans expected to be out letting their hair down.
Police will target underage drinking and anti-social and violent behaviour with foot patrols in areas such as Garema Place and walkthroughs across the city.
Officer in Charge of City Police Station Detective Inspector Stephen Ladd said the operation aimed to ensure everyone was safe as they celebrated the holiday season.
“As we move closer to Christmas and New Year’s Eve, we obviously see a rise in parties and end-of-year celebrations, but as police we also see a rise in illegal and potentially dangerous behaviour,” he said.
“Unfortunately, every weekend, we do see people drink to excess and, unfortunately, we have to deal with the fallout of that.
“Our aim is to make sure everyone has a safe and happy time and enjoys themselves, but that means sometimes we do have to take action against those who drink a little too much and get out of line.”
ACT Policing road officers will target drink and drug driving along with other dangerous driving behaviour. Det Insp Ladd also encouraged licensees to remember their responsible service of alcohol obligations every night they’re operating.
“Irresponsible service of liquor can potentially contribute to incidents of assault, offensive behaviour and drink driving,” he said.
“We’re there to make sure licensees get through their evenings too, and make sure their staff also have a safe and happy time.”
Compliance officers will join police in ensuring venues adhere to the Liquor Act.
ACT Fair Trading Commissioner Derise Cubin said venues were obligated to check the intoxication levels of their patrons and step in where required.
“While it might be hard to do, you need to cut people off when they’ve had too much to drink, and that’s where people’s friends can assist as well,” she said.
While there are a range of penalties licensed venues can face if they breach the Liquor Act, what could happen varies depending on the circumstances.
“We might look at a warning; we might look at education – Access Canberra has an ‘engage, educate, enforce’ approach,” Ms Cubin said.
“But from an escalation perspective, depending on the conduct, it may be we need to undertake occupational discipline action through the ACT Civil and Administration Tribunal, and there are other offences that are an option.”
Ms Cubin said compliance officers could help licensees and their staff understand any questions they may have about their responsibilities when serving the public while also protecting themselves.
“Having a liquor license is a responsibility, and so it’s incumbent on licensees and their staff to know their obligations under the law,” she said.
“It’s about harm minimisation and community safety. Those are the objects that underpin the Liquor Act so it’s vital that we all adhere to that and work together to have a safe night out.”
Those heading out on the town have been urged to know their limits, not drink too much, take advantage of the free water available at all venues, and make sure they have a safe way to get home.
“Nothing good happens after midnight,” Det Insp Ladd said.