Big Brother coming to Albury?

Laura Norda is getting a run again in Albury with the council to decide in May whether or not to implement CCTV in the central business district. The problems with this plan include the cost, the council has budgeted $350,000 which will pay for six or seven cameras but won’t cover the cost of monitoring them, and the fact that they don’t actually seem to curb violence in other places that they have been installed.

This confirmed what they saw in central Sydney a few weeks ago — that cameras can be beneficial in reducing vandalism, identifying offenders and securing convictions. But they would not stop alcohol-fuelled violence.

Is this a surprise to anyone? Who would have thought that violent drunk people, already displaying the fact that they have lost the ability to act rationally or in a socially acceptable manner, don’t care if they are being filmed? This should make the decision pretty simple, if the cameras aren’t a deterrent then they’re not worth the cost.

If businesses are concerned about vandalism then the onus is on them to provide cameras to protect their property. These don’t have to be monitored in real time to be effective, which reduces the cost significantly.

It’s time for everyone to address the elephant in the corner of the room when it comes to alcohol and violence. When pubs open late people get drunk before they go out, drink to excess at the licensed venues and then beat the crap out of one another. If the pubs and clubs closed earlier people will still want four or five hours to ‘go out’ and so will drink less at home before going into town, meaning that at closing time people are less pissed and less inclined to violence. This is hardly rocket science, in fact it’s so obvious that even the experts agree.

If pubs and clubs closed earlier they wouldn’t be adversely affected, if anything they would probably increase their revenue per patron because they wouldn’t be three parts cut when they walked in the door. Hopefully the government’s $53M program will deal with this, because it takes some balls to stand up to the hotel lobby. That said, the right thing has been done on smoking in pubs it’s now time to address binge drinking and violence.

26 thoughts on “Big Brother coming to Albury?

  1. Statistics show that more people are likely to act like or show support for violent drunk people, already displaying the fact that they have lost the ability to act rationally or in a socially acceptable manner than to vote for Dr Nelson. If the polls don’t change expect to see Brendan on a CCTV near you.

  2. I think councils have a say over the opening hours – they do in Victoria. I’d suggest any candidate who ran for Albury council on the promise to close the pubs earlier would be a monty to get elected.

  3. That’s a shame. I recall a case in Bright about 8 years ago when the Alpine Hotel wanted to extend its liquor license to 3 AM AND include the forecourt that actually extends out into the middle of the town adjoining the clocktower roundabout.

    There were about 50 written objections including one by me. We ran a restaurant at the time and I was sick to death of all the late night vandalism caused by drunken patrons leaving the pub at 1am, let alone what might happen if it were extended to 3AM. The forecourt plan was diabolical as it would have placed all the yobos in the town centre from 9pm onwards and scared off a lot of tourists.

    The council at the time looked like approving it but thankfully backed down due to the public pressure.

    The lesson is that even though you say the Albury council has no control over it the onus is still on the residents to lobby the authorities for change.

  4. The Council’s approach to this point has been the ‘lockout’ at 1am which stops people moving between venues after that time, but it’s a band-aid solution at best.

  5. yes the lockout solution is a bit like using a slug-gun to bring down a charging bull elephant but I think it goes to show just how in the pocket of the local pubs council actually is.
    Licensed venues thrive in a climate of community tolerance for their irresponsibility, until we get tough on pubs and clubs and hold them to account for the drunken behaviour they create I doubt we’ll see improvement.

  6. Oh how Dave from Albury has grown! I’m pretty sure Dave from UNE would have objected vigorously to the pub closing early!

    The pub doesn’t need to close early – responsible drinking laws actually need to be followed so people who are dickheads on the drink don’t become dickheads…

  7. Yeah, but we both know that Dave from UNE was a ne’er do well drunkard. That said, at its worst Armidale was pretty tame compared to the cesspit that Dean St becomes every Friday and Saturday night.

    Perhaps we could just close the border after 8pm and see if that improves things?

  8. I was going to mention the six O’clock swill that used to go on in decades past.
    A dangerous way to drink that was, some of the older pubs around Albury still have tiled walls on the outside of the pub to make it easier to hose the urine and vomit off in the aftermath of the nightly six o’clock swill.
    Early closing times are not the ONLY answer, and licensees tend to be VERY bad at policing things like responsible drinking laws unless someone is watching over them of course.

  9. There’s a fair bit of difference between shutting at midnight and 6pm. Surely if there’d be a twelve o’clock swill then there’s currently one at three or five am too.

  10. obviously there’s a difference, but I used the example to illustrate that an earlier closing time isn’t necissarily a panacea for a society’s drinking culture.

    I don’t know what the solution is, I think shuttle busses are part of the solution (a lot of the violence seems to centre around taxis), it seems to me that there aren’t enough taxis running on the weekends either, all during the week there is an absolute plethora of taxis at the rank outside coles supermarket in Lavington, come Friday and Saturday night there aren’t enough to go around which leads to tension and fights breaking out over cabs.

    More police on the beat is part of the solution, a crackdown on licensees to ensure they are doing the right thing re RSA is part of the solution and making sure we as a society redress the perception of binge drinking as “cool” is another part.
    I don’t think there is any one answer, the solution will come from many approaches.

    Maybe legislation to bring about a definite concentration blood alcohol level beyond which a person can be charged with public drunkeness for simply being in a public place. I think there is a perception that it’s OK to get fall down drunk as long as you aren’t driving, and of course it isn’t.

  11. CCTV cameras are very effective at moving some types of crimes to other areas where there are no CCTV cameras. If Albury is anything like Armidale then about 1/2 the cameras will be empty spheres anyway because they didn’t have enough money, so they end up covering 1/2 of the mall some of the time.

    Sadly time has marched on since the halcyon days when Dave from UNE might be found propping up a bar somewhere in this fair town, and we have more than our fair share of violent crime, largely unreported in the media. Mostly muggings and assaults (often racially motivated). The perpetrators are often juvenile (like the group who broke into my friends house on Saturday morning, robbed his house and stole his car, fortunately they didn’t burn it as tradition demands, but they did break two wheels) so frankly they couldn’t give a damn about being caught or identified.

    As for pissheads, well that’s already been well covered in the comments thus far. CCTV ain’t going to stop them, though it may assist in convicting them (horse bolted, shut gate). I don’t have any answers.

  12. That’s dispiriting news lemmiwinks. I must admit though, that last time I was in Armidale I found that they’d ruined the Wicklow, the mall was a pig sty and the uni felt strangely sterile. That said, I have no doubt that anyone who went to UNE ten years before me would have complained about the state of it in my day too.

    The only time I was involved in a violent incident in Armidale was when I was working delivering pizzas and I was mugged at a house near Giraween. I invested in a very large Maglite soon after and was able to avoid three later mugging attempts.

  13. Maglite, Pizza Boy? Would that be to help the assailants pick up the pizza and cash after you disappeared through a life-size Dave shaped hole in the side of your car as you made your heroic escape?

    Back on topic – lemmiwinks got it right when they pointed out that CCTV is all about cleaning up after the mess rather than stopping it.

    If society is prepared to accept the Big Brother-esque constant vidual, then perhaps they would be prepared to accept the same system employed by the pharmacy industry of curtailing large purchases of non-prescription drugs. If you buy more than three forms of medicine, the pharmacy has a right to ask for and record your ID. This stops people travelling from pharmacy to pharmacy across the state buying enough source ingredients to make illicit drugs. Couldn’t the same system apply to alcohol? You’re a nerd Dave, couldn’t a system be developed to record the data for a maximum of 12 hours and be centrally accessed by all licensed venues in town? This will also limit underage drinking as you will need to show id at every purchase, not just at the door. It would also hold the licensor responsible because we could then identify whom served the alcohol to someone who had obviously drunk to much.

  14. To be honest Lee, hitting people with a torch made of aircraft grade aluminium usually removed the need for the heroic escape. I also found it to be strangely cathartic.

  15. the ubiquitous FL. I think I’d rather be whacked with a Maglite.
    I can just hear the AHA and the civil libertarians teaming up if the proposal for a pseudoephidrine watch was extended to alcohol.
    Neither group is very good at shutting up when their own vested interests conflict with the greater public good.

    I think the list of suggestions I made earlier in the thread is going to be as near to a complete solution as is likely to be reached.
    I think what would work quickest though is if a pub was sucessfully sued for damage caused by a drunk patron outside their premesis.
    Sucessful lawsuits against individual drunks would make a lot of them think twice too.

    We don’t bat an eyelid at removing someone’s right to drive for a period of time, maybe we should think about restricting people’s right to drink for a perid of time too.

    Something in the order of a class action against the hotelier’s association and the automotive industry would work well too.
    Sadly it seems the quickest way for some of these characters to grow a social conscience is for them to be stung in the hip pocket.

  16. You’ll have to excuse my ignorance Dave. While I’m well aware of what an FL looks like (only by courtesy of pictures on a certain website) I’m not familiar with a “maglite”. Would it be too big or too small to be converted into an FL? Perhaps you’ve got a picture of one. While you’re at it, any pictures of the pizza boy – in uniform? It’s probably worth a whole post.

  17. This is the Maglite that I own, it takes 5 D-cell batteries, which means that it’s long enough to swing at someone without putting yourself in danger. It bears no resemblance to the FL, I cannot imagine any circumstance in which it could be used in a similar manner.

    Of the three unsuccessful mugging attempts I was subjected to as a pizza boy, two gave up as soon as I started swinging the torch around like a club, the third persisted until the torch actually hit him on the forearm, at which point he screamed like a girl and changed his tune from “I’m going to kill you” to “I’m going to sue you.”

    Thankfully I went through uni before digital cameras became ubiquitous so there are few, if any, photos of me in my bright pink Eagle Boys shirt. Sadly there are far too many photos of me in drag, and even a few of me having my arse shaved with an axe, but that’s a story for another time.

  18. Ah yes, the time honoured tradition of “mug the pizza boy”, closely followed by “smash the glass in the public phone box” followed by a spot of “break, enter and steal” for desert as you’re walking home. Overall the crime in Farmidale probably isn’t all that bad, but I feel we may be overrepresented in the statistics. Maybe I’m just naive. Still Dave, it could have been worse, you could have been working at the servo at Girra (though I doubt it was open 24 hours then).

    As for the Uni, look no further than Messrs Nelson and Howard for that. The culture of run as a place of business rather than a seat of learning is, not surprisingly, still deeply entrenched in the current mob of fat cats^H^H^H^H morons^H^H^H^H^H err, managers. I hope that the change of federal government can bring about some positive change, but it’s going to take a while to flush the current crop of “CEO’s” out and get someone with a clue back in.

    It doesn’t help when you have a chancellor who couldn’t lie straight in bed (how about closing the bistro, even going as far as removing the beer lines[1] when it just so happens that you’ve bought a pub in town), VSU and a COO (Chief Operating Officer) who was employed on an obscene salary and gets additional cash bonuses based on the amount of money he slashes from the budget. Pure genius!

    Bitter? Me?

    [1] A decision which has subsequently been rescinded including the expense of installing new beer lines. Presumably it was found that students won’t willingly be funneled into your shitty dive when the colleges (themselves under threat of privatization[2]) have sponsorship deals with drinking establishments where they actually get something in return for going there.[3]

    [2] Millions to perform long overdue maintenance and bring up the safety standards? Well la-de-fucking-da! Who would have thought that’s what happens when you have a small community to maintain and you retrench all the electricians, plumbers, painters, carpenters and builders that the upkeep of such a community would demand.

    [3] This has no basis in fact, it’s all rumor and speculation, I’m sure he’s a lovely fellow once you get to know him[4]

    [4] I need a holiday but the income stream is handy, so I want to come back[5]

    [5] Err, not that I work there or anything, I’m just an enthusiastic community minded member of the general public.[6]

    [6] Poorly executed footnotes in a comments section are bad enough, but so many?!

  19. In response to the Commercial Hotel in Dubbo being names as Number 3 in the Top Hotel Crime Spots list in the Herald (quite an achievement given the calibre of the hotels listed) the hotels of Dubbo will from this weekend:

    * Not serve any drink with an alcohol level of 5% after midnight; and
    * Close earlier (4am instead of 5am).

    This is on top of banning serving of shots, and the main nightclub reducing its capacity by 200 people.

    A step in the right direction I guess…

  20. It bears no resemblance to the FL, I cannot imagine any circumstance in which it could be used in a similar manner.

    The basic shape seems the same but in checking the specs I see there could be a problem with it for ‘some people’ … show off!

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