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Operation Unite Reveals Poor Food Provision In Our Licensed Premises And Minors Able To Purchase Alcohol

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Operation Unite Reveals Poor Food Provision In Our Licensed Premises And Minors Able To Purchase Alcohol

Checks at licensed premises in Whangarei during Operation Unite on 17 December 2010 revealed serious short-comings. The premises were audited by members of the Northland District Health Board and NZ Police.

Operation Unite is a joint NZ and Australian Police exercise to focus on alcohol harm reduction and the impacts of alcohol misuse.

The newly formed Whangarei Alcohol Monitoring Group, consisting of members from NZ Police, Northland District Health Board, Whangarei District Licensing Agency and NZ Fire Service, used Operation Unite to assess compliance of Whangarei licensed premises with the Sale of Liquor Act 1989.

Aspects such as intoxication, the provision of food and sales to minors were observed. The provision of food is a condition of an on-licence. Substantial food options must be available for consumption on the premises at all times premises are selling alcohol.

Alarmingly, none of the four premises audited had substantial food options available. Moderate to extreme levels of intoxication were also noted in all of these premises.

All premises checked will be contacted regarding the results of the food audit and the observed levels of intoxication. Potential outcomes could be a formal warning or an application for the suspension or cancellation of licence, dependant upon the seriousness of the offence and records of previous breaches or failures. Information regarding the minimum standard of food provision, which licensed premises must comply with, has previously been sent to all licensed premises.

Sergeant Howard CLEMENT, Alcohol Harm Reduction Officer, said the result was alarming as the standard conditions of an on-license state that a good range of food must be available, menu clearly visible and promoted by staff at all times alcohol is available for sale.

Premises with excellent provision of food are proven to be popular and successful businesses. It is important that patrons of licensed premises are made aware that food is a basic provision and they are entitled to request food when enjoying alcoholic beverages. With the imminent influx of visitors and tourists to the region, not only over the holiday season but the upcoming Rugby World Cup, it is also an excellent way for struggling premises to increase income in the current economic climate.

With the horrific cost associated with alcohol related harm, licensed premises have a responsibility to ensure they provide a safe and pleasant social environment which minimises the risk of harm. Licensed premises in Whangarei are able to sell alcohol until the early hours of the morning but accessing substantial food from a licensed premise beyond 10.00 pm can prove difficult. Food works to reduce intoxication by slowing the rate at which alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream. For this to be effective, food must be consumed before drinking begins or before the customer becomes intoxicated.

A Controlled Purchase Operation (CPO) was conducted in conjunction with these food checks. Two of the four premises audited sold to persons under the age of 18 who were under the supervision of Police. This is a disappointing result. One off-licensed premise sold to an underage person. CPO's are part of an ongoing programme to assess compliance with the Sale of Liquor Act. In accordance with the Act applications for suspension or cancellation of licence and manager's certificates may be made following premises brought to notice for failing the aforementioned CPO's.

Howard CLEMENT said "All licensees have an obligation to be good hosts to our locals and visitors to Whangarei alike. This latest operation has shown that significant improvement is required licensed premises. Ongoing monitoring will continue".

He said it was important every effort was made to ensure food is available to all customers. He urged all Whangarei licensees to take their host responsibilities seriously, particularly over the festive season and with the upcoming Rugby World Cup when there will be an increase in patronage and alcohol consumption.

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