Spike in state's public place assaults

Police Minister David O'Byrne says alcohol-fuelled violence is a national issue.
Police Minister David O'Byrne says alcohol-fuelled violence is a national issue.

PUBLIC place assaults are on the rise for the first time in three years, according to the latest Tasmania Police data.

Assaults in the South have been the main driver of the violence spike.

From July to October there were 270 public place assaults compared to 242 the previous year, police figures show.

A greater number of assaults in Hobart, Glenorchy, Bridgewater and Kingston were driving up the violence.

The spike follows significant decreases in public place assaults throughout Tasmania.

Since 2008-09 public assaults have gone from 1218 to 824 last financial year.

In 2012-13 Launceston and Queenstown were the only areas not to experience a decrease in public violence. In that year Launceston recorded 210 public place assaults, a slight increase on the year before.

By comparison the much busier Hobart precinct recorded just five more.

Burnie was the only other city to see an increase with 75 public place assaults in 2012-13.

Launceston CIB's acting Detective Inspector Johnathan Higgins said while violence was always concerning, Launceston was not experiencing an increase.

Police Minister David O'Byrne said alcohol-fuelled violence was a national issue and Tasmania Police participated in Australia-wide initiatives, like Operation Unite, to target the problem.

Police measures include targeted patrols of hotspots and ensuring licensed venues are complying with liquor laws.

Uniform officers undertake routine patrols with additional beats on Friday and Saturday nights, he said.

District support police officers are also rostered on at peak times "when antisocial behaviour is most likely to occur in public places."

The government said the frontline would be bolstered by 50 recruits due to hit the streets soon.

The Liberals said its policies would add a further 37 officers to the frontline by establishing a serious crimes squad as well as restoring the public order response team.

"The best way to improve public safety is to see more police on the beat," opposition police spokeswoman Elise Archer said.


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