Wagga’s emergency services are bracing for an expected spike in alcohol-fuelled violence as the holiday period begins.
New research released this week by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research uncovered a concerning link between alcohol-related presentations to the state’s emergency departments and the number of arrests made for assault.
Among men aged between 18 and 24, every 10 alcohol-related presentations to the emergency department came with an additional 8.2 arrests on assault charges within one month.
Local paramedic John Larter said, in his experience, alcohol affected each individual and their behaviour differently.
“Alcohol dehydrates you, so if it’s hot and you’re not drinking water, then it will obviously have a more profound effect on people’s actions,” Mr Larter said.
“That’s when we see the worst – not everyone who drinks turns into a nut bag that’s going to run around hitting people and paramedics and police, but it does happen.”
Mr Larter said another factor around alcohol-fuelled violence that tends to come into play around this time of year is the compounding pressures on families.
“This can either be a very good time of year or a very difficult one, and it’s always difficult if you’ve got families under stress,” he said.
“These weeks are obviously very difficult if you’re trying to share the custody of your children or if money’s tight and there’s no presents on Christmas morning.”
Riverina Police District’s Inspector Andrew Spliet said much of the issue came down to personal responsibility on the part of those consuming alcohol over the summer months.
“If we’re enforcing strict licencing conditions and people aren’t drinking to excess, then there’s a high chance that they won’t be committing offences,” Inspector Spliet said.
“If you’re out drinking, just make sure that you’re not damaging property or hurting people or assaulting people, because there’s always a chance that somebody can be injured or killed.”
Inspector Spliet said the recent announcement of six new probationary constables to help tackle alcohol-fueled violence would also be a huge help.
“Here at Wagga, it’s probably the most amount of police we’ve had available for a long time,” he said.
“It’s always welcomed to have those extra police to assist.”