Alcohol violence at peak

Glenn CordingleyBroome Advertiser
District Superintendent Allan Adams.
Camera IconDistrict Superintendent Allan Adams. Credit: Nicola Kalmar

Latest crime figures show the disturbing trend of the Kimberley being the most violent police district in WA per head of population is continuing.

In Broome this financial year there were 736 domestic assaults, 211 non-domestic assaults and 173 threatening behaviour offences reported, according to WA Police.

Kimberley District Superintendent Allan Adams said about 70 per cent of the incidents were directly influenced by alcohol consumption.

“There is a degree of recidivism within these numbers but it is still very alarming,” he said.

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“Broome, unfortunately, experiences alcohol-related violence 16 times higher than the State average when taking into account its population.

“When you consider for each of these offences there is a victim, a perpetrator and, on a large number of occasions kids present, it is a significant issue.”

It comes as the Local Drug Action Groups prepares to launch an advertising blitz linking alcohol to violence.

Supt Adams said the number of alcohol fuelled incidents in a town the size of Broome was unacceptable.

He said it was not unusual for the Kimberley district to have more domestic assaults reported in a week than metropolitan divisions, which have up to 15 times more people.

“Information at the alcohol point of sale is critical in getting the message across around excessive alcohol consumption and its influence on behaviour,” Supt Adams said.

“It lifts knowledge across the entire community which can only deliver benefit.

“Obviously, the community-wide conversation around our future approach to alcohol- related harm continues and that will no doubt raise other actions to be taken to curb this massive issue across the Kimberley.”

He said a number of potential solutions to curb the unwanted impact of excessive alcohol consumption had stemmed from public engagement.

These include reducing the amount of alcohol available for sale, the cashless debit card and banning problem drinkers from accessing alcohol.

Supt Adams said the police drive to reduce alcohol- related harm in the Kimberley was overwhelmingly driven by the desire to stop women being beaten, children being neglected and public disorder being highly visible in communities.

“It is obviously the police role to sort these types of issues when they occur but the damage to community members has already been done when we get called,” he said.

“I try and look at this issue considering arguments to the contrary with the most open of mind but find it difficult to reconcile that the only way to address this issue is police simply keep responding once the violence has occurred.”

Police have introduced a number of proactive strategies to try and reduce the alcohol-related harm in the Kimberley such as high-profile patrols in public open spaces and liquor restricted premises, which have resulted in thousands of litres of alcohol being seized and destroyed.

But Supt Adams said the reality was the volume of alcohol was a “literal drop in the ocean”.

“Conducting operations at the front of liquor stores refusing entry to those not complying with the Liquor Control Act have proved very successful in curtailing alcohol-related offending but logistically very difficult to run continuously,” he said.

Supt Adams said the entire community needed to “buy-in” to break the cycle.

“Whether it be violence in the home or disorder on the street, any person who has lived in the Kimberley for any reasonable period of time would have witnessed disorderly, drunken or alcohol driven criminal behaviour,” he said.

“If we are all impacted, it needs us all to be part of the solution. I strongly believe if we want our communities to be safer and stronger all those within them must play their part in achieving this.”

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