Cops like ‘boozers pay’ call

A CALL for a boozer pays system to recoup costs to society of alcohol abuse has received a mixed response in the Clarence Valley.

This week the State Auditor-General Peter Achterstraat made the call in a report which showed alcohol abuses cost the state $3.87 billion a year or $1565 per household.

The report recommended a reporting system which accurately reflected the cost of alcohol to the community and included an "abuser pays" model, where offenders would be fined for taking valuable resources away from police stations and hospitals.

Click here to see the reaction of the NSW Auditor-General on the issue

One of the bodies representing the people dealing with the problem at the "coalface", the NSW Police Association, backed the auditor general.

North Coast Police Association spokesman Tony King said enough was enough.

Speaking on local radio, Mr King said the community was fed up with the costs of dealing with drunks.

"If you look at the costs to the community, and reports like this show the cost of it to the government, surely that's enough," he said.

"It's nice for this topic to be debated.

"Someone needs to be paying for this.

"It certainly justifies what we've been saying, and the Last Drinks Coalition has been saying for a long time.

"Enough is enough; it's time to stop this alcohol-related crime and time to stop people from getting to the point where they're out of control."

But Clarence Valley Council director environment, planning and community Des Schroder was not so sure.

He said alcohol-related crime figures for the region over the past three years, also released this week, had fallen 21%.

Mr Schroder said measures such as the Grafton and Yamba liquor accords were behind the fall.

He also noted the Valley was doing a lot better than other areas around the state, including northern neighbour Byron Bay.

"In four years from 2008 to 2012 Byron Bay reported 1249 incidents of alcohol-related offensive behaviour to 113 here," Mr Schroder said.

He said the preventative measures, such as earlier closing times, alcohol-free zones and education were more cost effective than punishing offenders afterwards.

NEED TO KNOW COST OF GROG ABUSE: STATE   THE NSW Auditor-General says the State Government does not estimate or report the total cost of alcohol abuse.   "My concern is that the NSW Gov- ernment does not know the full cost of alcohol abuse - at best, cost information is fragmented," said Auditor-General Peter Achterstraat.   "It is important for government to have good information on the costs of alcohol abuse so it can respond effectively to the problem," said Mr Achterstraat. "If costs were increasing, this could be a trigger for a different approach," he added.   Alcohol abuse can cause a range of physical, emotional and social prob- lems. Government agencies monitor and report incidents of alcohol-related harm. For example, police monitor numbers of alcohol-related assaults and NSW Health monitors alcohol-related admissions.   "The NSW Government should estimate the cost of alcohol abuse and publically report the cost - so the government and the public know whether the problem is getting better or worse," he said.   "The community also has a right to know this information so it can inform public debate on alcohol abuse and the best ways to combat it."  



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