Fatal flaw revealed in state’s lockout laws

A NEWstudy by a Brisbane university has cast serious doubt on the ability of Queensland's controversial lockout laws to curb alcohol-fuelled violence.

The study, led by Griffith University, also found there was no reduction in alcohol consumption within "night-time entertainment districts" (NEDs) while partygoers ventured out later.

Associate Professor Grant Devilly from Griffith, Queensland University of Technology's Professor David Kavanagh and the University of Queensland's Professor Leanne Hides conducted three studies from 2014 to 2017 on the blood alcohol readings of people as they arrived and left party districts in Brisbane.

They analysed arrest rates from the Queensland Police Service Crime Map for 2016 and 2017. There were seven assaults in the CBD and Fortitude Valley on April 2, 2016 with the same amount on March 25, 2017.

Meanwhile between January 1 to February 28, 2016, there were 132 assaults compared to 140 for the same period in 2017.

Violence in Fortitude Valley in Brisbane
Violence in Fortitude Valley in Brisbane

"People were substantially more inebriated as they entered the NEDs after the legislative change," Associate Prof Devilly said.

"Crime statistics and patrons' self-reported experiences of violence did not change.

"This is the first study to collect extensive data on blood alcohol levels, illicit substance use and assaults as people enter and exit nightclub entertainment districts, both before and after the introduction of this kind of legislation."

The State Government in July 2016 wound back drinking hours and banned shots after midnight.

A 1am lockout was proposed, but the plan was ditched in early 2017 in favour of ID scanning and banning from July 1 that year.

During the study, partygoers told researchers they'd predicted the legislation would lead to heavier predrinking.

There were 850 people breathalysed during study one, 900 in study two and 1300 in study three.

Alcohol Fueled violence. Friday night in the Valley
Alcohol Fueled violence. Friday night in the Valley

"After the introduction of the legislation patrons entered the NEDs systematically later and increased their alcohol preloading," the study read.

"People were substantially more inebriated as they entered the NEDs after the legislative change, with approximately 50 per cent fewer people not preloading after the new laws."

Associate Prof Devilly said when people were asked why they preloaded, they said to save money or to socialise.

He said any change to legislation should encourage people to venture out earlier to limit predrinking, and encourage drinking in a controlled environment.

The study will be released today.