The Greens MP David Shoebridge today condemned the Government’s planned reintroduction of Drunk and Disorderly as a criminal offence, through changes to police move on powers, saying it is taking NSW back over 30 years in policing and defies a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. See SMH page 3.
“The Coalition are sending NSW back to the future. The offence of Drunk and Disorderly was removed from the books in 1980,” Mr Shoebridge said.
“It was removed because criminalising drunkenness had failed to address alcohol abuse. Instead it meant police resources were used to target already marginalised groups including the homeless and aboriginals.
“It is one thing to detain people who are drunk and a danger to themselves or others until they sober up. The police already have these powers, and have had them since 2000. That is good public policy.
“More than three decades ago the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody recommended the abolition of the offence of drunk and disorderly because it so disproportionally impacted on Aboriginal citizens. Now the Coalition is bringing it back.
“This is the Coalition banging the law and order drum to give police the power to gaol and charge people just for being intoxicated.
“Let’s deal with the problem at the source and cut down on the amount of alcohol in society, not drag ourselves back to the 1970’s by criminalising public drunkenness.
“Alcohol is a societal problem. We won’t solve it by criminalising already marginalised individuals,” Mr Shoebridge said.