Cherbourg liquor crimes clog up courts

THE COURT system is being clogged up by petty crimes associated with Cherbourg's Alcohol Management Plan.

Associate Professor Alan Clough from James Cook University is the chief investigator of the Evaluation of Alcohol Management Plans in remote indigenous communities.

He has done a broader study Cherbourg was involved in, evaluating the effectiveness of AMPs.

AMP strategies were brought in by the State Government to minimise alcohol related harm in the community in the early 2000s.

Prof Clough said, of the 19 communities that had an alcohol management plan in Queensland, there were mixed results in its effectiveness.

"Mixed results and mixed views of the impacts of the plans some favourable and some not so favourable," he said.

"Broadly speaking people recognised it helped to reduce violence and injury and made the place, the community's better places to live."

Prof Clough said he saw the court system being clogged with minor crimes.

"Courts and police are spending a lot of resources on these minor crimes," he said.

"The administration of other justice is being impinged upon by forcing them to deal with this issue.

"Sometimes people have never had an interaction with the criminal justice system in the past it's really a burden that people don't see."

When the plans came in special measures were put in place to make sure it did not breach the racial discrimination act.

"Doesn't mean it doesn't make people angry on the ground as to why they are singled out with behaviours other groups are not targeted," he said.

Prof Clough said the AMP had better results in more isolated communities.

SINCE 2004 Cherbourg has had alcohol restrictions in place. 

From 2004- 2009 it was an offence to drink, carry alcohol or be drunk in places such as public parks, school grounds and the cemetery in Cherbourg.   

Full restrictions were put in place in March 2009.  

This meant the alcohol carriage limit was introduced with the limit being only 11.25L of light or mid-strength beer, the equivalent to a carton of 30 cans.   

From then until March 2010, 330 individuals were convicted of 487 charges for breaches of alcohol carriage limits in Cherbourg.   

Eighty of the defendants had no previous conviction of breaches of alcohol carriage limits in Cherbourg.   

The Queensland Police Service said from 2009 to 2015, Cherbourg had 2526 liquor offences, compared to 93 in Kingaroy in the same timeframe.   

The restrictions were not welcomed by the community at the time in 2009.   

 In 2013 Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council CEO Warren Collins distributed questionnaires to staff and the community, questioning the alcohol restrictions.   

The community consultation about the AMP (Alcohol Management Plan) ultimately failed when only 80 questionnaires were returned.   

In 2013 Mr Collins said most residents felt the ban was discriminatory.   

Of the respondents 63% said they were against the ban. In 2008 there were 44 liquor offences in Cherbourg which jumped to 455 in 2009.   

Liquor offences haven't dropped to under 200 a year since the introduction of the AMP in Cherbourg.       

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