DRUNK AND DISORDERLY OFFENCE
The Hon. CHARLIE LYNN:
My question is addressed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. What is the latest information on alcohol move-on powers and the new offence of being intoxicated and disorderly?
The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER:
The new provisions in the Summary Offences Act relating to intoxicated and disorderly behaviour came into effect on Friday 30 September 2011 in time for the drinking season that we unfortunately experience during the long summer months. As was said repeatedly during debate on this legislation, the new offence is not about locking people up, particularly not the disadvantaged. It is about making our streets safe again for ordinary people wanting to have a good time in our public places, without being threatened by rowdy and violent drunks. By linking the offence to the now expanded police move-on powers, we have ensured that no-one receives a fine for this offence without first being given an opportunity to calm down and leave the area. The Government believes that the undoubted responsibilities of those who supply alcohol must be matched by the responsibility of those who consume it. So those who refuse to comply with a move-on direction and are found again within six hours in a public place still intoxicated and acting in a disorderly way can be given the on-the-spot fine.
On the latest figures available I can advise the House that from the date of commencement, 30 September 2010, up until 22 November there have been 101 legal actions for the offence under section 9 of the Summary Offences Act, and that in most cases this has been in the form of an infringement notice. These are early figures, but so far they bear out what the Government said during the debate on these provisions: firstly, they will prove useful to police and, secondly, the majority of people committing the offence will not be arrested by police or go to court; they will receive an infringement notice. So we will not see paddy wagons full of intoxicated unfortunates being carted off to police cells, as The Greens and those opposite predicted. Nor are we seeing the abuse that it was predicted we would see. Rather, we are seeing robust but measured enforcement by our police who confront the consequences of public drunkenness and disorderly behaviour every Friday night and all weekend.
Let us not forget that, owing to the way the offence is designed, a great many people who might otherwise have committed the offence have been given a chance to remove themselves from the situation by complying with an earlier move-on direction. This has also been assisted by our removal of the previous Government's silly limitation that alcohol move-on directions could only be given to groups of three or more persons. Police now give these directions to intoxicated individuals and, as a result, allow them to avoid any further legal action for being intoxicated and disorderly in public.
I would also like to thank the commissioner for his recent contribution to discussion on how to manage binge drinking, and the particular role young women should play in looking out for each other. Our new intoxicated and disorderly offence and enhanced move-on powers are just one way this Government is contributing to dealing with the prevailing "drink to get drunk" culture, as Commissioner Scipione rightly calls it. Once again I would personally like to thank the men and women of the NSW Police Force for their tireless efforts in helping to make our streets truly safe again.