Kings Cross 'blitz' to include ID scanners & drug dogs

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Sydney club district Kings Cross has been at the centre of government scrutiny in recent months, following the death of 18-year-old Thomas Kelly from an unprovoked attack in July. (You can read our in-depth look at the topic, The Blame Game, including the opinions of club owners and promoters in the Cross.) Today NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell announced a plan designed to “sound alarm bells for thugs and hooligans”. According to a media release from the Premier’s office this morning, more transport, ID scanners and “a police blitz” are all part of the plan entitled ‘Cleaning Up The Cross’. “This plan is a tough and comprehensive response and I make no apologies for that,” the Premier writes in the release. “Kings Cross should be a place where Sydneysiders and visitors can go for a good night out in safety. The tragic death of Thomas Kelly brought the deteriorating situation in Kings Cross into sharp focus and today I am calling time on the alarming scenes we have seen in the Cross.”

According to the plan, police will stage the ‘high-visibility’ Operation Rushmore in the Cross over summer, starting on Friday 28 September, the start of the long weekend. Under the plan, ID scanners will be implemented in venues throughout the Cross so that when a person is ejected from one venue, they can be barred from all others. Sniffer dogs are also a key part of the Premier’s plan. “Drug detection dogs will be able to be used in the Cross without police first obtaining a warrant,” the media release reads. “This extra new police power will also be extended to all metropolitan and inter-city train lines.” The new measures also include improvements to late-night bus services, a continued freeze on new liquor licenses until 24 December, 2015 and a ‘sobering-up centre’. Read the full measures from the Premier’s office below.

SUMMARY OF NEW MEASURES [QUOTED DIRECTLY FROM THE NSW PREMIER]

#1 Operation Rushmore – the NSW Police Force, supported by a number of NSW Government agencies and the City, will target alcohol-related crime, anti-social behaviour and violent behaviour in public spaces in the lead-up to and over summer in Kings Cross. The first blitz of this new operation will be on Friday 28 September, the start of the October long weekend.

#2 Drug dogs will be able to patrol Kings Cross streets without police first getting a warrant. For the first time, they will also be able to be used on all metropolitan and inter-city train lines without a warrant.

#3 The introduction of ID scanners across the Kings Cross Precinct Liquor Accord so when a person is ejected from one venue, they can be barred from all.

#4 A sobering-up centre will be established to service the precinct.

#5 Extra taxi marshals will start work on Friday 28 September (start of the October long weekend); and a pre-paid taxi trial will start by the end of October.

#6 Traffic changes which make it easier for taxis and buses to get in and out of Kings Cross, and easier for passengers to access these services, will be finalised in conjunction with Sydney City Council.

#7 Extra night time bus services to the city to allow travellers to link up with existing Night Ride services. There will be an additional six services an hour to Central Station, meaning a bus less than every eight minutes on average. This includes four new direct services to Central with no stops in between. Buses will operate from Kings Cross to Town Hall four times an hour.

#8 The freeze on new liquor outlets in Kings Cross will be extended for another three years, until 24 December, 2015. The legislation will be introduced by the end of the year.

#9 The area covered by the Kings Cross Liquor Accord will be extended to take in approximately 100 extra licensed premises in the Potts Point and Elizabeth Bay areas. The legislation will be introduced by the end of the year.

#10 We will introduce legislation to define a small bar as a bar catering for 60 or fewer patrons to ensure all bars are subject to the same enforcement measures.

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