Sydney’s supposedly violence-curbing lockout laws have been straddling the line between outrageous and ridiculous for some time now, but over the weekend they veered wildly into the realm of full-blown self-parody.

As the Sydney Morning Herald reports, a Paddington restaurant was questioned by NSW Police over its “unsavoury” and “antisocial” wine list. 10 William Street was apparently advertising “wine by the glass” on its blackboard.

The sign caught the attention of local coppers, who told the venue’s manager that they were concerned about the proximity of the blackboard to the front of the bar, saying it could encourage heavy drinking.

A sign at the front of the restaurant advertising wine without additives as “free wine” also had police clutching their pearls claims restaurant owner Giovanni Paradiso, who shared his frustration on Instagram.

“So according to the NSW POLICE FORCE our blackboard with what we are pouring by the glass is promoting unsavoury antisocial behaviour,” Mr Paradiso wrote. “SYDNEY WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING.”

Mr Pardiso’s post received more than a hundred comments from similarly fed-up chefs and bartenders, as well as Sydney residents, who slammed the police intervention as “disgraceful”, “embarrassing”, and “lunacy”.

“Sydney to Melbourne: ‘It’s over. We give up you can have the better city we’ll just have the police state’,” wrote customer Matt Jouuett on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

The controversy comes amid a renewed conversation surrounding Sydney’s divisive late-night laws, sparked by local businessman Matt Barrie’s lengthy LinkedIn tirade, ‘Would the last person in Sydney please turn the lights out?’.

“Sydney’s supposedly violence-curbing lockout laws have been straddling the line between outrageous and ridiculous for some time now.”

Among the concerning statistics Barrie cites in his article are an 84 percent decline in King’s Cross foot traffic between 2012 and 2015, with 42 bars, clubs, and small businesses closing as a result of a 40 percent dip in revenue.

However, despite the Orwellian police activities and the total decimation of one of Sydney’s most vibrant quarters, at least locals can rest easy in the knowledge that the lockout laws have helped to curb drunken violence… right?

Well, no, not really. And when we say ‘not really’, we meant not at all. As Inthemix reports, new data from the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) shows that the lockout laws may be having the opposite effect.

The data tallies the number of assaults in the locked out Sydney CBD and Kings Cross areas and compares it with the number of assaults in the rest of the NSW capital, stretching as far back as January 2010.

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According to the BOCSAR findings, violence has been steadily decreasing in Sydney for years, before the lockout laws were even introduced, and areas outside of the lockout laws are seeing a faster decline in crime.

The data indicates there’s been a greater drop in the number of assaults between midnight and 3am outside of lockout zone areas than inside them, which suggests the laws actually are slowing an overall trend.

How powerful is that trend? Well, antisocial behaviour in the city has apparently been steadily decreasing since 2010. In fact, the greatest dip occurred between 2010 and 2012, two full years before the lockouts were introduced.

Some readers may have seen Fairfax‘s recent tongue-in-cheek article announcing a new police “wine unit” for Sydney. The piece is intended as satire, but at this point, we wouldn’t put it past the NSW government.

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