TOWNSVILLE

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - RELATIVE VALUES - CHRIS McMA­HON

It is 11pm, 30 de­grees and Flin­ders St is build­ing up for a rowdy night. It’s early, most peo­ple are still at home “pre-load­ing” or at a pub in the sub­urbs hav­ing din­ner and a cou­ple of quiet ones be­fore head­ing to the night­club strip.

The crowd won’t start ar­riv­ing in the Safe Night Precinct un­til about 1am, when they’ll bounce from the three main clubs, Bully’s, The Bank and The Mad Cow, to find the best spot by the 3am lock­out.

Although it’s early, there’s al­ready a large po­lice pres­ence on the street. Twelve of­fi­cers roam the less-than-100m-long night­club strip, quash­ing trou­ble be­fore it has the chance to kick off. The drug squad is out and about, with three plain clothes of­fi­cers look­ing for deal­ers try­ing to sell their wares.

As the night edges on, the foot­path fills with more revellers. There’s a group of men, the 5 per cent who are look­ing for trou­ble. They’re sit­ting on a gar­den bed, bait­ing passers-by. They’re here for one rea­son and that’s to ruin some­one’s night. It doesn’t take long for the po­lice to con­front them and is­sue a move-on or­der, ban­ning them from Flin­ders St for the rest of the night.

These move-on no­tices are one of the best out­comes of the Safe Night Precinct pro­gram.

It’s now close to lock­out and pun­ters are run­ning be­tween clubs, lin­ing up, hop­ing to make it in be­fore 3am. It’s the golden hour that has po­lice on edge; they stand in groups of four out­side the three main venues, look­ing for trou­ble, although none even­tu­ates. Their pres­ence is enough to ward off fights.

The night rolls on, peo­ple overindulge, but ev­ery­one gets to go home, to bed, in­stead of a jail cell.

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