Photo: Jim Rice
Canberra's top police officer says an increase in alcohol-related offences around CBD nightspots is linked to additional officers on the beat.
Launching a three-day blitz on drunken violence in a partnership of Australian and New Zealand forces, ACT Chief Police Officer Rudi Lammers said the 24 officers responsible for policing Civic through the regional targeting team had driven increased reporting of existing crime.
Recent police data showed new liquor laws have helped cut alcohol-related offences in the ACT, but failed to reduce drunken violence in Civic.
Alcohol-related assaults in the CBD have risen since December 2010, with at least one occurring in the city centre every two days since the introduction of the government's reforms in December 2010.
Assistant Commissioner Lammers said assaults and alcohol-related incidents had been reduced by 10 per cent across the ACT.
''They have slightly risen in the CBD but that's because we have mostly had a higher police presence. When there's more police there is a higher detection of offences and a higher reporting of offences,'' he said.
''My plan over the next 12 months is to continue to drive down the levels of alcohol-fuelled violence in and around the city.''
The ACT government is reviewing its 2010 liquor reforms, which included risk-based liquor-licensing fees, the new specialised police team and tougher powers for regulators.
Alcohol-related crime in the city remains the worst of any ACT location, with rates seven times higher than Kingston, Manuka and Griffith combined, and four times higher than the next worst suburb, Belconnen.
Assistant Commissioner Lammers said Civic and areas around popular nightspots were patrolled by a sufficient number of police, up from 22 before the reforms were introduced.
"With the formation of the regional targeting team, which was the amalgamation of our beat team and our alcohol crime targeting team, there are more people out on the beat on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday night than there ever has been.
''Canberra still is a very, very safe place compared to many other capital cities in Australia,'' he said.
''These operations and the community awareness and the work we do with licensees are all about keeping it that way.''
As part of Operation Unite, police will focus on revellers who are drinking to get drunk and ruining popular social areas for other visitors.
Officers from the regional targeting team, crime reduction unit, traffic operations and specialist response group will take part from 6pm Friday until 6am Sunday.
''We're looking very closely at the Newcastle model to see exactly what they did, as well as just reducing trading hours,'' Assistant Commissioner Lammers said.
''Anything that helps to keep the community safe, and the CBD safe, is a model that I will be examining.''
He called on the community to take ownership of the issue of alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour.
''The community has got a responsibility to look after itself so people have an obligation to make sure that if a friend is intoxicated they look after them and take them home.
''Although this is a concentrated effort over the three days of Friday through to Sunday, my police do this day in and day out,'' he said.