The West

Outlaw drunks in pubs: Police
Last call: Police want to ban drunks from pubs. Picture: Travis Anderson/ The Kalgoorlie Miner

WA Police have called for an overhaul of the State's liquor laws including cuts in licensed venues' opening hours and making it an offence to be drunk in pubs, clubs or restaurants.

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In a 70-page submission to the review of the Liquor Control Act, WA Police made a raft of recommendations to address "shortcomings", revealing that alcohol sapped 20 per cent - or about $230 million - of its budget.

It said alcohol abuse had put an unacceptably high strain on resources as demand for police attendance peaked last year with an average of 6971 calls between midnight on Saturdays and 1am on Sundays. That compared with about 2600 calls an hour on Mondays to Thursdays.

About 60 per cent of calls for police attendance are alcohol-related.

WA Police recommended banning venues from mixing alcohol and energy drinks and called for current extended trading permits, which allow venues to trade beyond their normal hours, to be revoked.

This would stop most pubs and hotels trading past midnight.

Although police called for greater responsibility to be placed on venues to prevent drunkenness, they also want a bigger onus placed on patrons to drink responsibly by making it an offence to be drunk in licensed venues. No definition of the term "drunk" was included in the submission.

Police also want the power to remove people from sporting events if they take alcohol into a venue.

The submission called for wide-sweeping amendments to stem binge drinking among teenagers, including the introduction of secondary supply laws to prohibit the supply of alcohol to juveniles without their parents' permission in any setting, including private residences, parks and reserves.

It would not affect parents who want to give their own children alcohol.

Police want to be able to send children into licensed venues to ensure their identification is checked after an Australian Schools Students Alcohol and Drugs survey found 29.8 per cent of 12-17 year olds got their alcohol from licensed venues.

The submission has prompted a war of words between Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan and the liquor industry.

Mr O'Callaghan said the laws were weighted heavily in favour of the alcohol industry.

He pointed to advertisements that breached standards and offences that occurred on licensed premises as examples of how the industry was failing to prevent harm.

"We're still seeing too much harm and we're still seeing the liquor industry itself not taking responsibility for harm minimisation," he said.

Australian Hotels Association WA chief Bradley Woods said the Act placed the onus and responsibility on licensed premises and gave tremendous power to police and authorities.

"For police or health lobby groups to suggest otherwise is a crude attempt to hijack the review process," he said.

He said that WA Police seemed to have a "vendetta" against the liquor industry, which was trying to strike a balance between minimising harm and the community's desire to have a vibrant hospitality industry.

The West Australian

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