Newcastle Herald: Top cop says ‘robust policing’ to ensure liquor trial succeeds

TRIAL SUPPORT: Newcastle City Police commander Wayne Humphrey spoke at a meeting of people concerned about the upcoming trial of eased liquor restrictions. Picture: Marina Neil

(23 April) Newcastle police commander Wayne Humphrey has dismissed a “rumour” the city’s force will be getting additional resources as part of the year-long trial of relaxed liquor laws, stressing the district has “sufficient resources” for police “to do the job we’re tasked to do”.

Detective Superintendent Humphrey, commander of the Newcastle City Police District, spoke at a community-organised “protest meeting” against the trial in Cooks Hill on Thursday.

“I’m not getting additional resources, I don’t know how that rumour started,” he said.

“That is incorrect. I would always like additional resources, but I would say to you as a community I have sufficient resources to do the job I am tasked with.

“If that includes policing these new conditions, then that is indeed what we shall do.

“My aim is to ensure this trial succeeds by using robust traditional policing methods.”

Under the trial, which venues will have to register to participate in, shots and cocktails will be served later into the night, the 1.30am lockout will be scrapped and liquor trading hours extended from 3am to 3.30am.

When the council and state MP Tim Crakanthorp were pushing for a review of the restrictions earlier this year, Supt. Humphrey said it would be “absolute lunacy” to scrap the 1.30am lockout.

“I don’t want to see the city go back to what it was,” he said, adding the lockouts had stopped “massive migratory groups of drunken people moving between premises and having conflict”.

Taking questions from the more than 50 attendees on Thursday, Supt. Humphrey said he would “not be drawn on criticising” the trial, which is slated to start mid-year.

“The decision has been made, any comments that were attributed to me before the decision had been made – were made then,” he said.

“My position is now that I support the trial and I will do what I have to do to police the city to make it safe.

“The decision has been made by the state government, your elected officials.”

Supt. Humphrey said police would report data as part of “Operation Street Safe”.

“Street Safe will have a couple of different arms,” he said.

“It’s about making it accustomed for police to do certain things around licensed premises, regularly.

“We will also have what I’ll call tactical deployments … with increased numbers of police working licensed premises and migratory routes that exist between those premises and transport hubs and other public places.”

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