Public nuisance offences in and around licensed premises

A public place includes licensed premisesDisorderly people are a concern to licensees, approved managers and their staff. Other disturbances in public places have recently resulted in legislative changes to ensure that all members of the public can enjoy public places.

The Summary Offences Act 2005 provides for public nuisance offences. The objective of these laws is to ensure that members of the public can lawfully use and pass through public places without interference from unlawful acts of nuisance committed by others. A public place includes licensed premises.

Public nuisance includes a person behaving in a disorderly, offensive, threatening or violent way who interferes with the peaceful passage or enjoyment of a public place by a member of the public. The explanatory note for the legislation includes the following examples as guidance for courts:

Offensive language

  • A person using obscene language in a mall or a street may constitute offensive language.
  • A person using obscene language in the public bar of a hotel in the course of a conversation with another person may not constitute offensive language.

Offensive manner

  • A person encourages another to participate in a fight.
  • A person urinating in view of another in a public place.
  • A person walking past people dining and interfering with that person‘s food.
  • A person seeking money or property from another in a manner that causes a person to be intimidated, have concern about their safety, or such as to cause a person to leave a public place.
  • Behaving in a manner that might cause another person to leave a public place.

It is important to note that these offences may or may not result from the consumption of liquor. When incidents occur outside licensed venues and liquor is involved, police question the offender about where they have been drinking. Information such as this is then used to target venues where there are concerns that patrons are being served excessive liquor.

Licensees co-exist with their community and immediate residential area and can be held accountable for the actions of their patrons in the vicinity of the licensed premises if liquor is found to be involved. Therefore it is in their best interests to monitor patrons and take action before problems escalate and the venue is the subject of community attention. Manage your venue responsibly.