Police Slam Timing Of Public Drunkenness Laws Abolishment

Concerns of community safety

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Police have slammed the move to abolish public drunkenness in Victoria from Melbourne Cup day, saying it poses a threat to community safety.

From November 7, police will no longer have the power to arrest people drunk in public, and instead a new system will be trialled for those caught having a few too many.

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Intoxicated Victorian will be taken straight home or to “sobering-up” centres under the new rules – measures similar to all other Australian states, except Queensland.

The change comes after the state government promised to remove public drunkenness laws after the inquest into the death of Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day in 2017.

The government has also committed to providing a dedicated Aboriginal service response to public drunkenness in metro Melbourne and 10 regional and outer suburb locations.

The Victoria Police Association's Wayne Gatt said the union supported the health-based approach but feared the proposed response gave police little power to act.

He was particularly concerned of the timing of the changes being implemented, with Melbourne Cup one of the booziest days on the Victoria calendar.

“What we don’t want on the first day this legislation is introduced is for our members to be fielding hundreds of extra calls and then have to find the resources to act as ‘secondary responders’ in lieu of there being no adequate first responders,” he told the Herald Sun.

“It’s on the government to explain how this is going to work – and time is ticking.”

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13 April 2023

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