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01/07/2013: Sobering Up Centre

A new approach to alcohol related violence and anti-social behaviour is being trialled in Sydney. The new Sobering Up Centres (PDF) are designed to place intoxicated people at risk in a safe and secure location until they sober up.

The NSW Government is trialling two different approaches in order to get the best outcome for the community: mandatory and non-mandatory.

The mandatory approach is being run by police across Kings Cross, City Central, Surry Hills and The Rocks.

To be admitted an individual must:

  • be intoxicated
  • be aged over 18 years
  • have failed to obey a police move-on direction
  • be potentially violent and/or acting in an anti-social manner and/or at risk of serious harm.

Anyone detained in the mandatory Sobering Up Centre will be charged a cost recovery fee. The cost of the fee will increase for repeat attendances. This will not carry a criminal record.

The non-mandatory approach is being run by community friendly services experienced in working with alcohol-affected people. A person will need to agree to be admitted to the centre. People who attend the non-mandatory Sobering Up Centres will not be charged for their stay.

Information for people who attend a mandatory Sobering Up Centre

Before being released from the mandatory Sobering Up Centre you will be issued with a cost recovery charge. The cost of your visit increases each time you attend the centre:

  • $200 - first visit
  • $400 - second visit
  • $600 - third visit
  • $800 - fourth and each subsequent visit.

A cost recovery charge can be paid in full:

  • by phone using a credit card
  • online using a credit card
  • at Australia Post.

You have 28 days to appeal but only through the court system. If you don't pay, further action will be taken that could include a Garnishee Order or Property Seizure Order.

To reduce or waive the cost recovery charge, you need to complete an Application to local court form (PDF) and submit it to the registrar of your local court. The Court Registrar will send a copy of this application to the nearest Police Prosecutor's office.

The court will consider your remorse, hardship brought be paying the charge and your participation in a drug and alcohol treatment program when reviewing your application.

More information



1300 753 822



State Debt Recovery Office
PO Box 786
Strawberry Hills NSW 2012

Last updated: 25 February 2015