Melbourne Cup 2023: Victoria police warn racegoers against public drunkenness

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Police have warned they will not step in to help the majority of people who get drunk on Melbourne Cup Day as a major rule change takes place.

Public intoxication will be decriminalized in Victoria from Tuesday, meaning there is little Victorian officers can do to help those who find themselves in an inebriated state.

Victoria Police will still be active, both trackside and in major entertainment areas, to ensure no laws are broken and to assist in emergency situations.

Officers will help any intoxicated person who does not require ambulance assistance to find friends or family, obtain public transport or access the Ministry of Health’s sobering services. Those who refuse will be left behind.

“Now that public drunkenness has been decriminalized on Cup Day, members will continue to encourage intoxicated people to seek support and help from family or friends,” a Victoria Police spokesperson said.

“There will also be the possibility to refer them to the public drunkenness service under the supervision of the Ministry of Health.

“However, if they refuse and do not pose a risk to others, there will no longer be a role for the police.”

Despite the change in how police will deal with drunken racegoers, they warn that any criminal offenses will be dealt with “swiftly”, with an increased number of general duty officers, Highway Patrol members, mounted police and public service officers order.

If the police are the first on the scene of an emergency, they will stay with intoxicated people until the ambulance arrives.

For anyone who poses a safety risk to others, Victoria Police say they will attempt to de-escalate the situation before using ‘move on’ and breaching peace powers to remove them from the track or venue.

Victoria moved to decriminalize public intoxication after determining a criminal approach was “inappropriate and inconsistent with current community standards”.

The state government was particularly concerned about the disproportionate impact of criminalization on indigenous people, with the commitment for change following the death of Yorta Yorta woman Aunty Tanya Day in 2017, who died in police custody.

Ms Day hit her head and died in her cell, with the coroner finding that police did not adequately care for or monitor her after the arrest.

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