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compliance
28 November 2018

Violent venues scheme

The NSW Government operates a Violent Venues Scheme to regulate licensed premises with high levels of assault and other violent incidents.

The Scheme aims to reduce alcohol related violence and focuses on acts of violence associated with a venue and considered offences under the Crimes Act. It is different to the Three Strikes Scheme that focuses entirely on compliance with the requirements of the Liquor Act 2007.

The list of violent venues is identified in rounds. Rounds commence on 1 June and 1 December each year.

Current violent venues list Round 20 (PDF 93.6 KB)

Special conditions apply to venues on the list:

  • 1 December 2018 for venues that also appeared on the list in Round 19, and
  • 8 December 2018 for any other venue.

A number of other venues (PDF 39.7 KB) were removed from the list in the latest round of the scheme, following reduced levels of violence.

A venue is categorised on the number and type of alcohol-related violent incidents that occur on its premises over a specified period.

  • Level 1 – 19 or more incidents
  • Level 2 – 12 to 18 incidents
  • Level 3 – 8 to 11 incidents.

Categorisation is informed by the latest 12 months of alcohol-related violent incident data from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR).

In March and September each year, BOCSAR provides us with the latest 12 months of alcohol-related violent incident data.

  • March data: relates to the previous calendar year
  • September data: relates to the previous financial year.

BOCSAR sources its data from NSW Police recorded incidents in the licensed venue or the immediate vicinity. Each year BOCSAR compiles the data and provides it to us so we’re able to categorise venues.

Certain types of events contribute to the tally of incidents that may place a venue on a Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3 violent venues list. The circumstances of these events vary greatly, and each incident is investigated on an individual basis.

An incident may be considered violent and contribute to your venue’s tally, if it:

  • meets the definition of a criminal incident
  • falls within one of the categories of violent criminal incidents
  • is alcohol-related
  • has occurred on the licensed premises on in the immediate vicinity.

Process for reviewing incidents

As a licensee, you are encouraged to meet with your local licensing police regularly to discuss incidents at your venue. Collaborating with police is beneficial in any case, particularly if you have concerns about the risk or impact of alcohol-related violence at your venue.

Licensed premises with 12 or more incidents in the latest 12 months

Before each round commences you can review incidents with local licensing police to help assess whether an incident should be reviewed and attributed to your venue.

Incidents that were reviewed and attributed in the previous round of the scheme cannot be reviewed again and will remain attributed to the venue.

The review process

The police review process is multi-layered, and involves input from:

  • local licensing police
  • the Local Area Commander (LAC)
  • the police Alcohol and Licensing Enforcement Command (ALEC).

Step 1 – requesting a review

To review these incidents, you must submit a completed Request for Review form to your local licensing police in the timeframe advised in your notification letter from L&GNSW. Review meetings must be held within the timeframe specified in your notification letter.

Step 2 – attending a review meeting

Before you go to the review meeting, be sure you to gather any material you believe would be useful, including incident registers maintained on the premises.

At the review meeting, you will receive an outline of the information considered by the licensing officer, where you can view the COPS records for each incident being reviewed. Due to privacy issues, identifying details are removed and you won’t be able to view COPS records on screen.

At the end of the meeting, the licensing officer completes a report (Form B), which they will provide to both you and the LAC.

The LAC is responsible for initially assessing whether or not any reviewed incidents should be attributed to the venue for the purpose of the scheme. The LAC’s assessment is then forwarded to ALEC for finalisation of the police assessment.

Step 3 – ALEC‘s final assessment

ALEC’s involvement in the incident review process ensures the incidents are assessed in a consistent manner.

The final assessment will indicate if there is any change to the number of incidents attributable to your venue, and will include an outline of the information considered in the assessment.

ALEC then sends a copy of the final police assessment to both you and L&GNSW. This is for the purpose of categorising venues under the scheme.

If the final police assessment indicates that a reviewed incident remains attributed to your licensed premises, ALEC will provide copies of the relevant records from the COPS database - with any third party personal information and health information deleted.

Licensees do not need to submit an application under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 to obtain this information.

If you don’t agree with the final police assessment, you can make a submission to L&GNSW outlining the reasons you disagree. We will consider your submission, taking into account the review process for attributing incidents.

Note that we can only consider submissions about incidents previously raised with police in accordance with the review process and incidents that have not previously been reviewed and attributed to your venue.

What to include

Include any supporting material in your submission that may assist our consideration. Label your supporting material clearly for example: CCTV footage.

Outcomes

In most circumstances, the final police assessment won’t be changed unless a licensee is able to provide evidence or information that demonstrates the incident should not have been attributed to venue.

We strongly recommend that a submission does not base its case on any of the following arguments - as they will not change the final police assessment:

  • the extent of any injury that arises from an assault is, or is not, significant
  • the nature of an assault is purported to be trivial
  • police did not investigate or prosecute the incident
  • the offender was not identified
  • CCTV footage is determinative
  • the reporting of the incident to police was delayed
  • the venue has no record of the matter
  • CCTV records have not been retained by the venue.

If you’re a liquor licensee, you may receive notification that your venue has been designated as a Level 1, 2, or 3 venue based on alcohol-related incident data.

If you disagree with your categorisation the dates below will guide you in making your submission for review:

  • Wednesday 5 September 2018:  Data notification letter dispatched to venues
  • Tuesday 18 September 2018:      Last day for review meeting between venues and police
  • Wednesday 3 October 2018:       Police assessment provided to venues and L&GNSW
  • Wednesday 10 October 2018:     Last day for venues’ submission on police assessments to L&GNSW

Special licence conditions are imposed on venues graded Level 1 and Level 2 under Schedule 4 of the Liquor Act 2007.

Level 1 Venues 

Level 1 venues are identified as having the highest levels of violence and are subject to six additional special conditions:

  1. A mandatory 1.30am lockout of patrons (except members of a registered club)
  2. Cessation of alcohol service 30 minutes prior to close
  3. No glass containers to be used after midnight
  4. No shots and drink limit restrictions after midnight
  5. 10 minute alcohol sales time out every hour after midnight or active distribution of water and/or food
  6. 1 or more additional security measure/s – to be notified using the approved Form F - Notification of Additional Security Measures for Level 1 Venues (PDF 178.9 KB)

Level 2 Venues 

Level 2 venues are subject to three additional special conditions:

  1. Cessation of alcohol services 30 minutes prior to close
  2. No glass containers to be used after midnight
  3. 10 minute alcohol sales time out every hour after midnight or active distribution of water and/or food.

Level 1 and Level 2 venues

Level 1 and Level 2 venues must also maintain an incident register during all trading hours.

Use the checklists and plans below to assist in implementing safety practices and strategies to reduce alcohol-related violence:

Venues declared Level 1 or Level 2 must comply with the special conditions unless:

  • an exemption is approved by the Secretary, NSW Department of Industry
  • once the venue is no longer included in the violent venues list.

Level 3 Venues 

Level 3 venues do not have any special conditions imposed. They are however, effectively put on notice that they are near the threshold for regulatory intervention under Schedule 4.

Level 3 venues are encouraged to develop or review their venue safety plans and conduct a risk assessment to identify appropriate ways to reduce the incidences of violence.

All licensees who receive notice of their venue’s possible categorisation as a Level 1 or Level 2 venue are required to submit a venue safety plan.

Developing your plan

Your plan should be brief, but comprehensively list the key risk factors for the venue and the proposed measures to address them.

Take into account areas identified for improvement and the venue’s compliance history so that the plan can specifically address the highest risks. You should review the effectiveness of your venue safety plan after three months, and again every six months at a minimum.

The format of the safety plan is up to you, however template venue safety plans have been developed by industry peak bodies:

Submit your safety plan within the timeframe outlined in your notification letter.

Existing Level 1 and Level 2 venues 

The Government will consider the suitability of Level 1 and Level 2 venue safety plan and compliance history, particularly when determining if a venue should be removed from Schedule 4.

The purpose of the venue safety plan is to set out how the risk of alcohol-related violence will be reduced at the licensed premises.

Your venue safety plan must be revised from the previous round to identify the key risk factors that would be improved if the special licence conditions were removed.

Sporting stadiums

The unique scale and nature of their operations mean that sporting stadiums will not be categorised under the scheme. Many of these sporting venues operate comprehensive plans for alcohol and security management, and work closely with L&GNSW and police around major sporting events.

Exemptions from special licence conditions

Licensees of Level 1 and Level 2 venues can seek an exemption from one or more of the special licence conditions for the whole licensed premises or a specified part of the licensed premises.

Whole premises exemption

To be considered for this exemption you must propose alternative conditions that will be more effective in reducing the risk of alcohol-related violence than the imposed conditions.

If the exemption is granted it will remain in force while the alternate conditions remain endorsed by The Secretary of the NSW Department of Industry.

Part of a premises exemption

To be considered for this exemption, you must demonstrate to the Secretary that:

  • the risk of alcohol-related violence is low in that part of the premises
  • an exemption would not increase the risk of alcohol- related violence in that part of the premises
  • adequate measures will be in place to minimise the risk of alcohol-related violence occurring in that part of the premises.

Withdrawal of an exemption 

The Secretary may consider withdrawing an exemption for part of a licensed premises in some circumstances.

Some circumstances may include where:

  • there is a spike in alcohol-related violence that is recorded by police
  • the risk of alcohol-related violence has increased in the exempted part of the premises due to a change in the way the venue is operated.

When reviewing the decision to withdraw an exemption, consideration will be given to information provided by the NSW Police Force, L&GNSW, and the licensee of the premises.