Ararat Police will be cracking down on the abuse of alcohol and the resultant poor behaviour of those who drink, particularly in the central business district of Ararat, through the enforcement of the Ararat Liquor Accord.
Officer in charge of Ararat Police, Senior Sergeant Damian Ferrari said the issues that face the police are also community issues and that all must work together to address these issues if police are to be successful.
"When I was going through the junior phase of my training, many years ago I had some very direct and strong minded mentors, to put it nicely. One thing I was taught, and which was drilled into us, was that people in the community should be able to walk down the street without being faced with any sort of drunken or unacceptable behaviour and that they should feel safe. I still believe in that philosophy," Snr Sgt Ferrari said.
"Far too many times I discover that certain individuals and even groups of people behave in such a manner that police have to intervene. This is highly unacceptable and the streets and town is for everyone, not just these few that feel they can behave as they please.
"Many times this behaviour is associated with the consumption of alcohol and even mixed in with the taking of illicit drugs.
"I have no problem with people having a good time but when their behaviour impacts on others then there needs to be intervention. I don't accept these excuses that 'the alcohol or drugs made me do it'. That is a causation factor, not an excuse."
Snr Sgt Ferrari said there are a number of new laws that give police considerable powers to deal with these unacceptable behaviours and in turn protect the community.
The following attract penalty notices which can be issued on the spot:
Behave in a riotous/offensive or insulting manner: Penalty $577
Indecent Language: Penalty $289
Contravention of an order to move on: Penalty $289
Drunk in a public place: Penalty $577
Drunk and Disorderly: Penalty $722
Possess controlled weapon excuse: Penalty $1000
Possess controlled weapon/vicinity licensed premises: Penalty $2000
Refuse name and address licensed premises: Penalty $289
Drunk, violent or quarrelsome refuse to leave licensed premises: Penalty $722
Snr Sgt Ferrari said these are just a few that are available to police as ways of dealing with unacceptable behaviours, while there are also many additional laws and processes available to us ,including the Ararat Liquor Accord.
The Liquor Accord is a forum where police and licensees work together to address certain unacceptable behaviours by patrons that cannot, or will not, abide by certain rules and expected standards during and after the consumption of alcohol, particularly at licensed premises.
"If you are nominated to be placed on the Accord it is because you have behaved in a manner that is unacceptable," Snr Sgt Ferrari said.
Snr Sgt Ferrari said the forum then discusses this matter and decides on a penalty, which is a ban from all licensed premises for a specified period of time.
The bans imposed are based on the severity of the behaviour and additionally a person's previous behaviours or bans are taken into account.
It is important to note that alcohol doesn't have to be a factor in a person being placed on the accord, it is predominately the behaviour.
"I have had discussions with licensees and they fully support the Liquor Accord and are prepared to make any recommendations necessary if people can't control their behaviours," Snr Sgt Ferrari said.
"I have also had lengthy discussions with my staff and supervisors regarding this issue. Should any person be found displaying any of these unacceptable behaviours then apart from the normal sanctions available that may be used, perpetrators will be placed on the Liquor Accord and banned from licensed premises - no exceptions.
"If it needs to be asked why we are taking this no tolerance approach, the answer is simple, this is what the community want."
Snr Sgt Ferrari said further to this, many police resources are utilised in dealing with these behaviours and significant amounts of money is required to deal with damages associated with this behaviour.
"So what is expected of you when you enter the public arena for a night out? It never ceases to amaze me that people don't get the simple things that make a difference or that there is a vast range of hollow excuses used by people instead of accepting responsibility for their own behaviours and actions," he said.
"What can I do to prevent these things from occurring? Firstly, drink responsibly and accept responsibility for your drinking behaviour and how you behave when you have been drinking. If you want respect then show respect yourself.
"It is not alright to assault someone; it has never been alright to do this. If you have anger issues then seek help for it or if you are feeling angry tonight then don't go out. If the consumption of alcohol makes you angry, then seek alternatives. Maybe drink light strength beer or simply don't drink at all."
While out socialising, if you are out and one of your friends is displaying behaviours that are unacceptable, Snr Sgt Ferrari suggests doing something positive about it before it turns into something that it shouldn't or before the police have to intervene.
Community members who have a friend or relative that has issues with alcohol, drugs or behaviour are urged to have those discussions with that person and encourage them to seek help or change their ways.
"There are many avenues available for assistance with a wide variety of these issues," Snr Sgt Ferrari said.
"Ararat has some very capable and caring professional people available to help you if it is needed."
If planning a night out, people are urged to go out earlier, not at the stroke of midnight or well into the night.
Statistics show that between 1am and 5am is a higher risk time for an incident to occur. People should plan to have a meal and drink responsibly, have a nominated driver or use public transport, in short, be out earlier, home earlier and enjoy the next day.
"Should an incident occur or you feel it is likely to occur then simply avoid it or just go home. The smart one is the one that walks away," Snr Sgt Ferrari said.
"Respect, courtesy, manners and commonsense go a long way and in the end those values are generally rewarded in some way. Like I have said, if you expect those values then first you have to display them yourselves."