City venues still state's most violent

NEWCASTLE’S Fanny’s and MJ Finnegans hotels have again topped the list of the state’s most violent venues, despite being subject to the toughest conditions, prompting calls for a crackdown on repeat offenders.

But the publicans say the government figures released yesterday don’t reflect the success in reducing violence through the introduction of identity scanners linked to those at other city hotels.

Fanny’s tops the government’s latest violent venues list after recording 28 incidents during 2011-12.

Finnegans was equal third, recording 21 incidents.

Both Fanny’s and Finnegans were ‘‘level one venues’’, or the worst offenders.

Topping the ‘‘level two’’ category – those venues with fewer than 19 violent incidents – was the King Street Hotel, with 16 incidents.

The scheme imposes restrictions on pubs and clubs that make it onto the list. However, all three Newcastle venues are already subject to even tighter trading restrictions, imposed in 2008.

The results prompted calls from the Police Association of NSW for a crackdown on the city venues, which were both among the most violent on past versions of the list.

Association president Scott Weber said the Newcastle trading conditions had significantly reduced alcohol-related violence but ‘‘something else needs to be done’’. 

Newcastle anti-violence campaigner Tony Brown said concerns had long been raised with Hospitality Minister George Souris that the ‘‘name and shame’’ approach was ineffective for city pubs.

Fanny’s nightclub licensee Russell Richardson said the figures  were a step behind the Newcastle Entertainment Precinct’s latest efforts to put a lid on violent behaviour.

Since July 1, the five late-night venues which make up the Newcastle Entertainment Precinct – Fanny’s, MJ Finnegans, the Queens Wharf Brewery, the Cambridge Hotel and the King Street Hotel, have shared their lists of barred patrons via an ID scanning system.

‘‘In the last six months of 2011-12 we recorded one-third of the incidents recorded during the previous six months, and we have cut it further,’’ Mr Richardson said.

MJ Finnegans owner Paul Hunter said it recorded only four incidents in the second half of the reporting period.

Australian Hotels Association NSW Newcastle-Hunter president Rolly de With said inner-city venues were working hard to reduce violence.

Both the Cambridge Hotel and Queens Wharf Brewery have dropped off the list during the last six months of 2011-12, and the number of incidents at Fanny’s and Finnegans has reduced by two and 10 respectively 

Mr Souris said those still on the list would face increased compliance activities from the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing. The government is assessing the effectiveness of the violent venues scheme.

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