Alcohol ban in place after violence

Laura Newell, Sophia Constantine and Cally DupeNorth West Telegraph
Man drinking a bottle of beer.
Camera IconMan drinking a bottle of beer.

All takeaway alcohol outlets in Port and South Hedland have been closed.

WA Police Pilbara District Office Acting Inspector Dean Snashall said the closure had been prompted as a result of “five very nasty assaults in five nights” at the Town Square in South Hedland, adding the ban was not in direct response to the Dhu inquest findings.

The findings were announced within the same hour as the ban, believed to be the first in the area, with acting Insp. Snashall saying the “decision to close the outlets was made prior” to that.

“This was going to occur regardless, based on antisocial behaviour of many days,” he said. “We believe there’s a likelihood of potential violence.

“There have been multiple serious assaults in South Hedland in the last five days directly resulting from the excessive consumption of alcohol. These assaults have been brutal and committed in public places.

“Pubs and restaurants are open as per normal … this is just for today, we are mindful that there needs to be some consideration at this time of year, this is about harm minimisation.”

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When asked if he had any concerns about backlash to the Dhu findings being handed down, acting Insp. Snashall said they had “planned for all sorts of issues that may arise”

“We haven’t heard anything locally to suggest that there is going to be any sort of backlash at all (about the findings),” he said.

“We have engaged with the community a lot in the past two years about this case … however this issue today is based purely on the issues we have had this week.”

A community notice issued this morning by the Town of Port Hedland said the ban decision had been made under Section 114 of the Liquor Accord Act as local police had reason to believe the civil disorder and/or a breach of peace is likely to occur.

“The Town of Port Hedland supports this decision in the interest of maintaining public safety and security for our community,” the notice said.

The closure applies to all licensed stores and outlets in the Town of Port Hedland locality, including: Liquorland South Hedland, BWS, Last Chance Tavern, Ibis Styles Port Hedland, North West Liquor and South Hedland Liquor.

Town of Port Hedland Mayor Camilo Blanco said he would hope the community understood the issues and supported the actions.

“Over the past five nights been five serious assaults, and clearly there is a funeral on Sunday and also the inquest signings have been released,” he said. “The police have initiated this action to protect this public in case there is any social unrest. I fully support their actions.

“In light of what’s happened previously, the continued anti-social behaviour in our town in years gone by these actions are fully supported.”

Mr Blanco said that it “is up to the police” as to when the closures would be lifted.

Acting Insp. Snashall said the decision to close the outlets had not been taken lightly and would be reviewed early Saturday morning with the likelihood that the ban would be lifted for normal Saturday trade.

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