Booze linked to violence spike

HUME has suffered a 7.1per cent increase in assaults. There were 980 incidents from April 2011-March this year, compared with 915 in the previous 12-month period.

Hume’s Inspector Paul Allinson said alcohol was the main factor in most assaults in the municipality.

The statistics, showing that Victoria is losing the battle against alcohol-fuelled violence and harm, are contained in a damning new report.

The Auditor-General found alcohol misuse is costing the state more than $4billion every year, despite the government spending millions of dollars to solve the problem.

The Effectiveness of Justice Strategies in Preventing and Reducing Alcohol-Related Harm report details a series of shortcomings in tackling a tripling of alcohol-related ambulance call-outs and a 49 per cent spike in alcohol-related assaults across Melbourne suburbs.

Since 1998, the number of liquor licences has more than doubled to more than 19,000 in the state.

In January this year, Hume had 309 licensed liquor outlets.

Inspector Allinson said: “Alcohol is often an ingredient in assaults that happen in public places and it’s also a factor in family violence.”

Acting Auditor-General Peter Frostsaid strategies to reduce harm were hampered by the lack of a government policy position, inconsistent liquor licensing laws and the lack of targeted enforcement by police and the Department of Justice compliance unit.

“Victoria Police and the compliance unit have not adequately targeted licensees who supply alcohol unlawfully,” Dr Frost found.

Inspector Allinson said: “In terms of Hume, [alcohol] is one of the main drivers of assault offences.”

However, he added that alcohol-related violence in the streets was not as big a problem in Hume as in other areas.

“I don’t think Hume has got the level of problem in relation to alcohol, particularly in the streets. It doesn’t seem to be an area that has that issue.”