Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Policing Kings Cross goes private

Do we want Bobbies on the Kings Cross beat - or bouncers?
Despite a long-standing offer from Kings Cross venues and businesses to fund extra police on the late night weekend beats, it seems the only extra policing will come from a privately funded security force.

The private force will have limited co-operative links with the Police.

An editorial in today's Sydney Morning Herald documents the risks of giving private businesses and nightclub owners the power to exile certain people from their "feifdom". This informal business group intends to formalise an existing database of troublemakers it has compiled to protect each other from hosting violent incidents and attracting government sanctions. The SMH lists other concerns:
Yet many will wonder about the wisdom of setting up a private security service to carry out normal policing functions. What are the powers of the roaming guards? How are they selected? What privacy rules cover the troublemaker database? How will the information on it be used, or secured?
This raises the question: Why have the state government and the police refused to consider the long-standing offer to fund "DIY Policing" using the Police force. I'd rather have them, for all their faults, than another army of bouncers pushing people around.

The informal database of troublemakers began after Newcastle instigated its early pub shutdown and venue managers noticed a spike in violence in Kings Cross. They realised groups of young men were taking the train down from Newcastle, arriving drunk and then behaving badly. It's a perfect example of the balloon effect - the displacement of problems often caused by prohibition strategies.

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