Police are investigating 'rogue operators' in the Ballarat central business district who are allegedly not abiding by their liquor licenses.
Police addressed concerns raised by members of the Ballarat Liquor Accord regarding the conduct of some businesses in a letter distributed earlier this week.
In the letter, signed by Acting Inspector Wendy Lambert and Acting Senior Sergeant Anthony Traynor, police stated they were conducting a high priority investigation into the issue.
With an increase in early morning alcohol-fuelled assaults in the CBD in recent months, officers will be out in force as hundreds of people are expected to flood the streets after the Ballarat Cup, Spilt Milk festival and during the festive season.
The increased police presence will include patrols inside licensed venues to ensure operators are fulfilling the obligations that come with their licenses.
While stating a commitment to continue working with members of the Accord to promote good practices and the responsible serving of alcohol, the letter reminds operators that as part of their membership they signed up to certain conditions so as not to condone or encourage excessive drinking or anti-social behaviour.
"We respect your situation as business operators and the right to make decisions that benefit your business financially. We are, however, opposed to any practices that promote the rapid consumption of, or abuse of, alcohol," the letter reads.
The majority of operators in the CBD have signed up to the liquor accord, which has been deemed a success in the past, with measures such as not serving alcoholic shots after 1am and an early lockout from venues implemented.
Ballarat Sergeant Rick Nield said ideally police would like all operators to sign up to the Accord so every licensed venue would be on the same page.
By not abiding by certain conditions, he said some operators were putting their patrons at risk.
At the end of the day all we want is for people to go out and enjoy themselves and get home safe and well.Sergeant Rick Nield
Publican David Canny, the president of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Hotels Association, said the Accord had been a great success since it was introduced in Ballarat many years ago.
The Ballarat Liquor Accord was created for operators in the CBD and is voluntary to sign but Mr Canny said he would like to see the Accord widened to allow operators outside of the CBD to sign too.
"Ballarat is seen as a leader around the state so it is important that everyone who can signs up," he said.
"Having a liquor licence is a privilege and should be treated that way. It should not be abused."
He said venues had worked well together over time to ensure community safety and good behaviour but every now and then an operator would break the agreement.
"It is disappointing when operators do the wrong thing because the last thing we need is irresponsible serving practices. We want an even playing field and for people to abide by the rules of responsible service under all circumstances," he said.
"We support the police's investigation to ensure everyone is compliant with licensing laws. We encourage all operators to work closely with police."
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