Many communities are taking action to address drinking in public places. Here's how you can take action.
Councils develop alcohol bans, Police enforce them
Councils have the powers to address concerns about disorderly behaviour and criminal offending that arises from alcohol being consumed in public places.
They can develop Alcohol Control bylaws (also known as alcohol/liquor bans or alcohol-free zones). These specify the time and day when the consumption and possession of alcohol in the public place is prohibited. For the legislation relevant to these bylaws please click here.
These bylaws may be permanent (until the bylaw is reviewed) or temporary (to cover an event or particular time period).
For example, an Alcohol Ban may cover a town centre, a park or public reserve, or a car park, and can be 24/7 or for certain times of day/night. A ban can also be put in place for a special event like a concert or other public event such as sport/game.
It is necessary for the Council to consult with its residents when creating such a bylaw.
Breaches of alcohol bans
The Police are the agency with the authority to enforce alcohol bans. They are given powers of arrest, search and seizure in relation to breaches of alcohol bans.
Breaches are dealt with by way of infringement notices – i.e. a fine of $250. This generally means that issues can be dealt with promptly. However, if there are other matters of concern to the Police other responses may be pursued. For more information on Police powers in relation to alcohol bans, please click here.
Consumption of alcohol by minors in a public place
The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 also addresses the consumption of alcohol in public places. The Act makes is an offence for those under 18 years (unaccompanied by their legal parent or guardian) to consume alcohol in a public place, please visit the Police website for more information. This offence is subject to a $200 fine.
Working together to create alcohol-free spaces
It is also possible to take community action to create spaces alcohol-free without using an Alcohol Control Bylaw. The owners of the spaces can be asked that no alcohol is brought into or consumed in the space.
Drinking in public places is an important setting to take action.
Many people who go on to commit offences have been consuming alcohol in public places.
Public places may also be a popular setting for young people to drink. They can also be used as places to “pre-load” before entering licensed premises or “side-load” between visits to different bars and clubs.
Public place drinking makes people feel unsafe in their communities and has significant costs to Councils through litter, vandalism and other disorderly behaviour.
Alcohol consumption (and anti-social behaviour) can be normalised when we see it occurring in our everyday settings.
Alcohol bans/bylaws in public places can be useful to address harm in your community.