Illawarra police unite against booze, violence

Revellers caught behaving badly will face increased penalties during the Easter weekend as police launch Operation Unite.

In Wollongong, police will focus on stemming alcohol-fuelled violence in the city area, preventing under-age drinking at beaches and in parks, as well as reducing drink-driving on the region’s roads.

Inspector Brian Wyver said under-age drinking tended to be a bigger problem in Wollongong’s northern suburbs.

 ‘‘We want our community to enjoy themselves but we want to stop those who interfere with people enjoying it,’’ he said.

 ‘‘Our role is to make it safe for rest of the community. The most important thing is we want people to enjoy themselves but be responsible.’’

People who find themselves on the wrong side of the law can expect to be hit with more than just a slap on the wrist.

Operation Commander Michael Fitzgerald said recent legislative changes had meant the fine for  intoxication or disorderly conduct had increased 550 per cent.

 “Under a March 31 amendment ... the fine for such offences has risen from $200 to $1100,” he said.

Fines for offensive conduct and offensive language have each risen from $200 to $500.

“That means not only might you wake up in a police cell facing a criminal conviction ... you could find yourself significantly out of pocket for a moment of foolishness,’’ Superintendent Fitzgerald said.

Operation Unite began on Thursday and will resume on Easter Saturday and Sunday.