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    A study into assault charges in Sydney has found that the introduction of lockout laws simply shifted the number of offences out of the CBD and into nearby suburbs.

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      Study Shows Assault Charges in Sydney Remained Stable After Lockout Laws

      A study into assault charges in Sydney has found that the introduction of lockout laws simply shifted the number of offences out of the CBD and into nearby suburbs.

      The study also showed that a decrease in assaults occurred after media reporting into alcohol fuelled violence, rather than the introduction of the laws.

      The Police Minister has suggested that the lockout laws ‘served their purpose’ as the government plans to revitalise nightlife in Sydney.

      Sydney Assault Charges Move Away from CBD

      Professor Don Weatherburn from the University of NSW National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, was a co-author of the study. He said that the lockout laws appeared to have caused assault charges in Sydney to move from the CBD and Kings Cross to surrounding suburbs.

      The data analysis of assaults in NSW between 2009 to 2019 was published in the journal ‘Addiction’.

      Prof Weatherburn suggested that the effect of lockout laws in improving public safety was overstated. He points to the fall in assaults in the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross being offset by a rise in areas within walking distance of the lockout zone.

      Researchers analysed the number of assaults in the lockout area over a 10-year span. They ultimately found a displacement effect, where assaults outside the lockout zone increased.

      The figures showed that a displacement effect became apparent after a couple of years, as businesses and revellers moved outside the lockout zone. Almost all of the decrease in assaults in the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross were mirrored by a rise in assaults in surrounding suburbs such as Pyrmont, Ultimo, Chippendale, Surry Hills and Darlinghurst.

      However, the combined assaults data for Double Bay, Bondi, Coogee and Newtown showed that there was no increase in assault charges overall for those areas. This included more serious offences such as assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

      Researchers were able to pinpoint the drop in assaults in the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross to January 2014, rather than the introduction of the lockout laws two months later. This was immediately after the death of Daniel Christie, which resulted in grievous bodily harm charges and garnered significant media attention.

      Professor Weatherburn said, “Right now no one notices that because COVID is around and we’ve got endless lockouts, but when and if nightlife returns to the city, I’d expect this to reappear”.

      The former head of the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, which provided the data went on to state, “I’m totally sympathetic to the idea of wanting nightlife to return – it’s a balancing act. But if they imagine that we’ve got this balance right now, I think they’re making a mistake because I think it’s COVID that’s holding the line.”

      Police Minister Says Lockout Laws “Served Their Purpose”

      Deputy Premier and Minister for Police Paul Toole said the lockout laws had “served their purpose” as part of a package of reforms to reduce alcohol-related violence.

      He said while the NSW government were trying to revitalise and support Sydney’s nightlife, Police would retain a strong presence to deal with anyone “who sets out to get drunk and cause trouble”.

      “We all want to see Sydney thrive as a 24-hour city where everyone feels safe to go out and have a good time without fear of alcohol-related crime,” Mr Toole said.

      NSW Police Corporate Sponsor for Alcohol-related Crime, Assistant Commissioner Peter Thurtell, said police had various strategies already in place to reduce alcohol-related crime and took a localised approach for each entertainment precinct, including Sydney’s CBD and Kings Cross.

      Assault Charges in Sydney

      If this is your first assault charge in Sydney, you will generally be dealt with more leniently by the Court. A list of 10,728 first offence common assault sentencing cases in the Local Court suggests that you will be far more likely to receive a Section 10 dismissal if you have no prior record.

      However, there are still a large amount of individuals who are convicted despite it being their first offence. That is why it is important that you contact experienced Sydney common assault lawyers so that they can prepare your case in such a way that you will be in the best position possible to receive a Section 10. Call Astor Legal on (02) 7804 2823 or email us at

      While it is ultimately up to the Magistrate or Judge as to what common assault sentence you will receive, there are sentencing statistics that can be helpful in providing some guidance. We have obtained a list of 27618 cases in the Local Court which provide a range:

      • Section 10 dismissal: 27%
      • Fine: 15%
      • Section 9 good behaviour bond: 41%
      • Community Service Order: 3%
      • Section 12 suspended sentence (no longer used for NSW offences): 5%
      • Intensive Corrections Order: 1%
      • Home Detention: 0%
      • Full Time Imprisonment: 6%

      While jail is a possibility, only 6% of offenders are sentenced to full-time imprisonment. More significantly, the overwhelming majority of offenders received convictions for this offence. The rate of convictions increases for common assault domestic violence charges. Contact us now so that we can help you avoid a criminal conviction.

      Section 61 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) sets out that Common assault is an act whereby a person intentionally or recklessly causes another person to apprehend immediate and unlawful violence.

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