NEWCASTLE’S top cop is warning late-night revellers who misbehave that they will face the full force of the law, with officers ordered to take action ranging from issuing on-the-spot fines to locking people up, in a bid to curb street offences and antisocial behaviour in the city.
Newcastle City local area commander Superintendent John Gralton said yesterday that trading restrictions on Newcastle pubs, introduced in 2008, had led to a dramatic reduction in the number of late-night assaults on members of the public.
But incidents were still happening and there remained a lot of work to do.
Superintendent Gralton was among emergency services personnel who joined health workers, government representatives and community members at a Newcastle Community Drug Action Team forum in City Hall yesterday.
‘‘I thought, what else can we do as a local area command that may have some impact,’’ Superintendent Gralton said.
‘‘And that has been to change some of the police behaviour in relation to our response to melees on the street and what not, and that is creating a consequence for the people involved.
‘‘Instead of just moving them on and out of the area I’m saying to my police, police from Newcastle City, take action.
‘‘If there is an offence there for affray or offensive language, or malicious damage, or an assault, take action for that so that the people have a consequence for their action.
‘‘So they understand, they can’t come in to Newcastle and punch on.’’
Superintendent Gralton said penalties for people who misbehaved could include on-the-spot fines of $550 for failing to quit a licensed premises when asked to leave.
Others might involve being issued a court attendance notice, or, if the offence was serious enough, being arrested and locked up.
NSW Ambulance Service Hunter zone manager Superintendent Terry Watson acknowledged reports to the forum of a reduction in late-night assaults following trading restrictions on licensed premises.
But anecdotal evidence was that paramedic call-outs had not decreased.
‘‘So it suggests to me while the evidence suggests that the alcohol-related violence has reduced, the violence resulting in injury has probably stayed about the same,’’ he said.
Paramedics were dealing with alcohol and drug-affected people who fell or injured themselves, had been hit by cars, or the people intoxicated individuals injured.
Superintendent Watson said while paramedics did not want to be the police, they supported enforcement activities and wanted to work with the community on solutions to the city’s problems.