A pub owner says more health conscious patrons who have a “better attitude” about drinking have helped reduce violence on Hobart’s waterfront.
The publican’s take on the situation is at odds with comments made by Tasmanian Supreme Court judge Michael Brett, who recently said drunken “thuggery” on Hobart’s waterfront in the early hours of the morning was “unfortunately very common”.
Justice Brett made the comments when sentencing two men for a violent robbery, in which one of their victims was beaten unconscious for his wallet and mobile phone.
“The crimes were committed by each of you while in company with the other, in the early hours of the morning, on the Hobart waterfront,” he said.
“Your actions constituted the type of thuggery which is unfortunately very common in that place and in those circumstances.
“For no apparent reason, you — and others you were with — confronted two men, both of whom were affected by alcohol.
“You initiated and aggressively pursued this confrontation, notwithstanding that one of the men was clearly and visibly incapacitated by the alcohol he had consumed, and the other was pleading with you to stop and leave them alone.”
But publicans and police say the waterfront has cleaned up its act over the past few years.
Police report violent crime decrease on waterfront
Tasmania Police figures show that public place assaults for the area of Murray Street, Morrison Street, Salamanca Place, and Franklin Wharf have dropped from 69 in the 2016/17 financial year to 58 last financial year.
Acting Inspector Darren Latham said that regular highly visible patrols at problem times were part of the reason for the decrease.
“Tasmania Police conducts regular patrols, with a highly visible presence at entertainment areas across the state, including the Hobart waterfront, late at night and in the early hours of the morning,” he said.
“While anecdotally the risk of anti-social behaviour is higher when a large group of people consume alcohol at the same location, statistics reflect a slight decrease in violent crime committed in the Hobart waterfront area over the last twelve months.
“Police continue to urge everyone to drink responsibly and look after their mates.”
Publicans welcome police presence
Pub owners said they have noticed a decrease in the frequency of violence and its severity.
Customs House general manager Rob Jubb said he believed the police presence and better lighting in the area had helped.
But that there had also been a real “cultural change” among both the servers and consumers of alcohol.
Salamanca Place on Hobart’s waterfront is a thriving night spot with a number of popular bars and hotels. (ABC News: Andrew Fisher)
“It’s a better attitude about not drinking, and drinking to complete excess,” he said.
“I wouldn’t say that was completely dead, but the fact is a lot of people [appear] more accepting of being cut off.
“Years ago it was taboo. You just didn’t want to cut anyone off because you were afraid of what they might do, but these days it’s very much accepted and people are much more willing to move on if they get pulled up.
“And I think just general attitude with health and all that kind of stuff as well is probably pulling in the direction that there is going to be less violent on the waterfront.
“Everyone is more well informed about how they treat themselves and their bodies.”
He said high profile cases of one punch deaths outside mainland clubs and pubs had also increased awareness among drinkers of the dangerous nature of a boozy punch up.