Make nightclubs pay for violence, says academic 


Charging nightclub and hotel owners for police assistance and forcing them to take responsibility beyond the front door will tackle nightclub violence more effectively than boosting police numbers, says leading academic Rolf Gerritsen.

The former NT Government senior bureaucrat and now research leader with the Territory’s Charles Darwin University said boosting police numbers at hot spots across the country was a knee-jerk reaction by governments which failed to address duty of care by nightclubs.

"They gain comfort knowing violent behaviour brewed in over-crowded, booze-saturated clubs is conveniently dealt with by tax-funded cops on the streets," Professor Gerritsen said.

He proposes that nightclub owners become legally responsible for public order within a zone around their clubs and must factor in the costs of police when called to incidents.

"Operators who condone over-crowding, gender inbalance and lax consumption of alcohol are then forced to weigh up the financial risks of violence and will have to jack up prices to secure their patrons' safety," he said.

A market could develop for cheaper and safer nightclubs so young people could choose between high-risk venues and those where rigid behavioural and drinking standards were enforced.

Professor Gerritsen suggested governments needed to reassess management of Australia’s late night entertainment venues.

"The governments’ proper role is to create a regulatory framework where privately created risk is paid for by those prepared to take it," he said.

"If police charged nightclubs and bars for the privilege to secure public safety, it would be more valued."

He said the latest boost to police numbers in Darwin, and high-profile police presence in Victoria were examples of government reaction to a problem caused by inadequate regulation.

“The moral alarm is going off across the country as sad young men prove their manhood with their fists and many venues need to share some blame for this,” he said.