Po­lice head calls for li­cenc­ing freeze

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

Re­ac­tions to the draft Lo­cal Al­co­hol Pol­icy have been mixed.

Busi­nesses, po­lice and hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives were among those who spoke at the fi­nal day of hear­ings on the pol­icy on Tues­day.

Auck­land City Po­lice Com­man­der Su­per­in­ten­dent Mike Cle­ment rep­re­sented po­lice for the whole of the Auck­land re­gion.

‘‘The link be­tween al­co­hol and vi­o­lence is un­de­ni­able. We see it as po­lice in our com­mu­ni­ties ev­ery day,’’ he says.

The im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Sale and Sup­ply of Al­co­hol Act in De­cem­ber has had some im­pact but al­co­hol is still a fac­tor in many crimes, he says.

‘‘There were some that thought [the in­tro­duc­tion of the act] was go­ing to be the end of the world and here we are talk­ing about the im­pact that 4am clo­sures have had.

‘‘I have to say the world hasn’t ended and we’re polic­ing a much bet­ter en­vi­ron­ment than ex­isted pre­vi­ously but you can see . . . since the leg­is­la­tion came in, there is still an aw­ful long way to go,’’ Cle­ment says.

The law change has al­lowed the coun­cil to come up with its own Lo­cal Al­co­hol Pol­icy.

Rules set out in the draft would see pubs and clubs close at 3am in the city and Pon­sonby, and 1am ev­ery­where else.

Some ‘‘good op­er­a­tors’’ will be able to ap­ply for ex­ten­sions to their hours, ex­cept for ar­eas cov­ered by a pri­or­ity over­lay – those ar­eas iden­ti­fied as ex­pe­ri­enc­ing greater lev­els

Dis­trict of al­co­hol-re­lated harm.

Off-li­cences would have open­ing hours re­stricted to be­tween 9am and 10pm, in­clud­ing su­per­mar­kets.

New Zealand Po­lice sup­ports much of the pol­icy but does not agree with the ex­tended hours.

‘‘The no­tion of ex­ten­sions to so­called good op­er­a­tors is per­verse in the sense that it does no more than li­cense premises to re­turn to days of old which were char­ac­terised by dis­pro­por­tion­ate amounts of al­co­hol re­lated harm,’’ Cle­ment says.

New Zealand Po­lice is propos­ing a freeze on the num­ber of li­censed premises un­til au­thor­i­ties can get a gauge on how suc­cess­ful mea­sures have been, Cle­ment says.

The pol­icy could have un­in­tended con­se­quences for Pon­sonby, busi­nesses say.

The area is be treated in the same way as the city un­der the plan, which could see a large in­flux of peo­ple head­ing there after 1am when bars in other sub­urbs close, Pon­sonby Business As­so­ci­a­tion head Vivi­enne Rosenberg says.

Pon­sonby is al­ready a popular spot and many es­tab­lish­ments won’t have the ca­pac­ity to let pa­trons in, she says.

There could be an in­crease in anti so­cial be­hav­iour on the streets, she says.

‘‘It’s not that we don’t want more peo­ple. We’d like to say we could cope but we can’t.

‘‘We want to keep the sta­tus quo and stag­gered clos­ing times.’’

About 66 per cent of busi­nesses rep­re­sented by the as­so­ci­a­tion are not bars or restau­rants.

Pon­sonby is also very much a res­i­den­tial area, Rosenberg says.

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