Enjoy your night but don't let it ruin your future
HEADING to the pub for a beer with a mate on a Friday night is almost an Aussie institution.
And while there's nothing wrong with enjoying a night out, sometimes all it takes is one punch for things to go horribly wrong.
That's the message Miles police officer in charge Werner Crous wants to share after a career of dealing with violence in and around pubs and licenced venues.
"Miles is not too bad, previously I've worked in mining towns, and mining towns have a bit of a reputation that they've earned with regards to violence around pubs,” Sergeant Crous said.
"The outcomes of violence in pubs, it's not just bad for the pub itself - for its public perception, it's not just bad for the people who go to the pub and have their good time destroyed by two idiots who decide to duke it out... it has to do with the possibility that you could be charged, someone could be badly hurt.”
Sgt Crous said offences that could eventuate from a fight in or near a pub include creating a disturbance in a licenced premises, a public nuisance offence, assault offence, to assault occasioning bodily harm, grievous bodily harm, and death.
"People falling over, I've seen that quite a bit in my history where there'd be a bit of a fight, one bloke hits the other bloke, other bloke hits back, one of them falls over backwards or forwards or to the side, hits their head on the concrete, cracks their skull,” Sgt Crous said.
"All of a sudden what can be seen as just another fight at the pub now suddenly becomes a grievous bodily harm investigation.
"So that's part of my concern when it comes to violence in pubs, is that potential outcome - people having their lives needlessly destroyed by getting criminal histories for something that could have easily been avoided.”
Sgt Crous described an incident when a young bull rider got involved in a pub fight, was charged with grievous bodily harm, and was convicted of the offence.
"Because of that conviction he can no longer go to the United States to participate there in their bull riding competitions. So he's destroyed his life, because of the fight. Everything is affected by a conviction like that.”
In the short term, police can also issue fines for violent behaviour. For instance, a fine for a public nuisance disorderly or public nuisance violent in and around pubs is $783.
Offenders can also be arrested, and banned from licenced venues.
"Through the liquor accords the pubs talk to each other, and if you're banned from one pub you're banned from the rest, so suddenly you find yourself without a drinking hole to go to, very sad,” Sgt Crous said.
Miles' Hotel Australia publican Lauren Neilen said the venues were lucky to have a close relationship with police, who do regular walk-throughs and established a Miles liquor accord.
Mrs Neilen confirmed if someone is banned from one venue "all licenced venues will stick together and ban that person for a specific amount of time”.
Sgt Crous emphasised pubs are not to blame for violence - people are.
And so far, Miles is doing well.
"Miles is blessed with having a low count of pub violence. I think it's a credit to the community and to the publicans that there is such a low rate of occurrence,” he said.
"Enjoy your night out, have fun, look after each other, look after yourself.”