Date PostedFebruary 6, 2013

Responsible Service of Alcohol Update: Sobering Up Centres to Combat Alcohol Fuelled Problems

There has been a lot of talk recently about the new plans by police to have people locked up if they do not listen to the instructions of police and present a public nuisance in the entertainment districts. But what exactly are these “sobering-up” centres and what does it mean for ordinary citizens?

The thought of being locked in a cell is a frightening one for any socially responsible citizen but we have all at one time or another overdone it a bit when out on the town, does this mean that we could be locked up with hardened criminals for the night?

Sobering-up centres are the police’s way of reducing alcohol fuelled violence in the entertainment districts by locking up people who are overly drunk and fail to listen to police instructions, these people present a possible risk to public safety and so will be locked up in the sobering up centre until they sober up. It is also meant to serve as a deterrent for people to avoid binge drinking altogether for fear of being locked up. So people who abuse alcohol, binge drink, pose a risk to themselves or others are the ones that should be nervous. Drinkers who abuse alcohol will face being locked up with other drinkers in the same predicament.

The sobering up centres should not be seen as a form of punishment only because people who present harm to themselves will also be locked up for their own safety.

NSW authorities announced that there will be 2 separate approaches to the “trial” sobering up centres to determine the best solution for the community. Once the trials have run their course and their success measured, the sobering up centres could be implemented state wide and possibly even nationwide.

There will be both mandatory and non-mandatory centres and both types will employ qualified staff who regularly monitor intoxicated people and provide them with on-going care.

Read this post from the police website which explains further and details the locations for the trial centres:

A mandatory police-run centre which will be established at cells in Central Street, Sydney, and encompass the Local Area Commands of Kings Cross, City Central, Surry Hills and The Rocks.

The establishment of two non-mandatory centres to service the Eastern Beaches (Coogee) and Wollongong Local Area Commands. The non-mandatory centres will be run by non-government providers.

In order to be admitted to the police-run mandatory centre an individual must:

  • Be aged over 18 years;
  • Have failed to obey a move-on direction issued by police due to their intoxicated state;
  • Must be potentially violent and/or acting in an anti-social manner and/or at risk of serious harm.

In order to be admitted to the two non-mandatory centres, run by non-government providers, an individual must:

  • Be intoxicated;
  • At risk of serious harm to themselves or others and/or be a public nuisance; and,
  • Consent to being admitted to the centre.

People will be forcibly held in the police-run mandatory centre for continuing to pose a risk to safety after police have asked them to move on.However, people must agree to being admitted to a non-mandatory centre.



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Peter Cutforth is a Director at Urban E-Learning, a global elearning, OH&S training, and web strategy firm based in Little Edward St. Spring Hill, Brisbane, Australia. Urban E-Learning provides compliance related online , Distance and Face-to-Face training products in the construction, hospitality and heavy vehicle transport sectors, to name a few. Examples include the White Card Construction induction course and the RSA - Responsible Service of Alcohol course. Peter's interests extend to training, safety and compliance, online marketing, and Mobile Apps.

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