UWS policing expert comments on the crackdown on drinking and violence on our streets

Date: 14/12/2009

After a weekend of alcohol-fuelled violence and hundreds of arrests, the University of Western Sydney offers media comment from policing expert Dr Michael Kennedy, about the outcomes from the trans-Tasman Operation Unite, and the broader strategies around high-visibility policing.

Dr Kennedy is a senior lecturer in the Bachelor of Policing program at UWS, and completed his doctorate on policing and policing reform.

Prior to joining the University, he served as a Detective in NSW Police for 20 years, where he investigated organised crime, major crime and child abuse.

Dr Kennedy says alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour has become a huge problem in many countries, and in response police need to be highly visible.

The Christmas, New Year and summer party period are notoriously busy for police.

However, Dr Kennedy says the longer-term ramifications of getting arrested should hopefully make people think twice about engaging in drunken, anti-social behaviour and approach their celebrations more thoughtfully.

"Young people in particular should not loose sight of the fact that a criminal conviction can screen them out of the labour market - at a time when long-term stable employment is already difficult to obtain," Dr Kennedy says.

Police should also not loose sight of the fact that as well as enforcement powers they also have discretionary powers, according to Dr Kennedy.

"This type of systemised and coercive enforcement can only ever work as a short term solution," he says.

"Changing behaviour and peoples' drinking habits that have escalated to these levels of violence will require community leaders and politicians to lead by example.

"The best and more useful type of social change is change that arises from consent, and not coercion."

Dr Kennedy says it's important for the public to understand that the senior police driving this campaign are supportive of young people.

"The senior police are not wowsers laying down the law because they can; they have an issue with the unacceptable and violent behaviour that is associated with binge drinking, and the devastating impact it has on our society," he says.

"They are simply asking people to be responsible when they consume alcohol.

"They are also expecting police and people to be civil to each other.

"Police must make sure that they can live up to the high standards they expect of the public - particularly of young people."



Media Services Manager

Amanda Whibley
02 9678 7084, 0418 438 399