10 May 2009

What should be done about the violence in Northbridge?

The regular violence that we see in Perth's main entertainment precinct every weekend is clearly unacceptable to the community standards of most Western Australians.

After 3 or 4am on Sunday morning, the fights on the streets—in particular James St—follow one after another non-stop. Last night the police were attending to one fight while another man who was only metres down the road was out of his mind on some stimulant (and probably alcohol as well) and screaming at the bouncers threatening retribution by killing them and destroying the club. After a while the police did eventually casually walk over and intervene, but it should have been handled well before then. They were overstretched and you got the impression that the chaos was all rather normal to them.

The prime factor in all the violence is alcohol, but it is such a big part of our culture and lifestyle and consequently completely banning it is not a realistic option.

The only solution that I am reasonably confident will effectively address this problem is to close down all the licenced premises and clear the streets of all loiterers at some time between 3 and 4am. I am a regular patron of Northbridge's nightclubs and am reluctant to see this happen, but the physical safety of people in the area comes first.

I spoke to some nightclub security staff who offered their thoughts on curbing violence. The general message I received was that the people on the streets need to be dispersed, especially at the front of venues where people congregate. Closing off some roads such as James St would open up the area and reduce the opportunities for altercations between people who are intoxicated and just passing by each other.


Anonymous said...

You have to think about the density of drunk people on the street. Closing down clubs and pubs at a certain time means the streets will be clogged with drunk patrons all at once. It's much more likely for a fight to happen in these circumstances. A higher density of drunk people means that there needs to be a higher density of police presence.

Best way to solve this would be to open up more drinking venues in Northbridge. Part of the violence and tension results from clubs being packed with too much diversity. More clubs means that niche groups of people can find a niche club to hang out in. It's too volatile to expect everyone to get along in a huge, mainstream club.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a joint effort on the part of the police and Barry Sargeant to deny liquor licenses to new venues so this isn't likely to happen soon.

I go to Northbridge quite a bit myself and whilst there are a lot of fights between 'friends' (people who know each other already) a lot of the random brawls happen when strangers from completely different social groups offend each other. Inebriation is definitely part of the problem but the forced interaction between two different groups is a large part of it too.

Sorry for the rant ... I'm writing an essay on this. Right. Now.

It's a shame. Northbridge be a really beautiful place to be but it is so bereft of nice places to be. James Street is just full of redundant, closed buildings, strip joints and kebab shops. Gross.

Anonymous said...

i was recently in perth for a holiday and stayed in northbridge. Seems a really nice place.. in the daytime that is... but I was apparently warned not to stray out too late especially past 11 pm!!!

I'm from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the clubs here open till 3am (official closing time, some till 4 or 5 am ... illegally) but no one seems to be bashed up, knifed or glassed week after week.. i am sure the odd fight does happen, once in a while its reported in the papers, but not the frequency I have seen reported in Perth.
And not taken to the streets or suburbs with a large gang of 30 to 50 people!!!
The week i was there , there was a huge fight of about 30 or 40 people in a suburb, from what I remember from the news on tv..

and what the hell... who eats bloody kebabs??? hahahaha...