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Southern Police Target Alcohol-fuelled Violence In Operation Unite

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

For Southern District police, the lead up to Christmas is a busy time, as alcohol plays a big part in people's lives and social activities, and is a major player in violent behaviour.

As is usual at this time of year, Southern police will be out in numbers, and this weekend (11, 12 December) it will be as part of Operation Unite, an Australasian stand against alcohol-fuelled violence, aimed at highlighting the daily work police do to tackle alcohol-fuelled crime and antisocial behaviour.

Operation Unite represents the first comprehensive and coordinated action by police forces in all states and jurisdictions in Australasia. It demonstrates the united resolve of commissioners to change Australia and New Zealand's culture of binge drinking in public places, and challenge the drinking public to take greater responsibility for their conduct. Southland In Invercargill, staff are continuing to target the Central Business District to tackle alcohol-fuelled violence and crime.

Alcohol harm reduction officers will be highly visible this weekend and there will be a strong police presence focusing on alcohol and related disorder in the CBD and licensed premises. Police will also be present at the Christmas Gallops at the Ascot Park Raceway.

"The community has sent us a strong message with the recent liquor submissions to push the closing hours of licensed premises back to 3am. Police continue to work with the community and are committed to reducing the effects and impact of alcohol-fuelled violence on our community," Invercargill Area Tactical Response Manager, Inspector Olaf Jensen said.

In Southland, rural staff will pay particular attention to licensed premises in the towns and rural settlements of eastern and western Southland.

"Good enforcement of liquor licensing laws and disorder reduces overall crime," said Southland Area Commander, Inspector Barry Taylor.

Dunedin and Clutha Dunedin and Clutha has experienced a 24% reduction in public place violence throughout November, however with warmer weather and work functions leading into Christmas we cannot afford to be complacent, said Dunedin Emergency Response Commander, Inspector Alastair Dickie.

Operation Safer Streets started on 4 December 2009 as a sergeant and five staff concentrating solely on central city violence and disorder and inner city hotels.

"Their brief is to apply zero tolerance to individuals or groups who are obviously looking for trouble and to take unaccompanied youths under 16 years off the streets after midnight."

This operation continues over all weekends until Christmas. Team policing will supplement this starting this weekend. Maori wardens and city safety officers will also be supporting staff working on this operation to provide high visibility.

Operation Expect More Testing involves Strategic Traffic Unit staff and swing shift staff targeting drink drivers with high profile compulsory breath testing at checkpoints throughout the city and re-rostered early shift staff starting at 5am conducting mobile breath testing. This operation is running in support of the Dunedin Road Safety Partners Alcohol Focus Group.

Inner city violence and drunk drivers historically have been high-risk activities for the Dunedin community and this is the reason that extra resourcing is invested to target these areas, Inspector Dickie said.

"We want the CBD to be a safe environment for the general public to move about in after dark so we aim to remove those who try to turn it into a crime hotspot, by being highly visible and dealing firmly with potential offenders."

"We also want our streets to be safe from potential killers in the form of drunk drivers; thus we have a strong focus on drink-driving leading into the festive season." Otago Rural

With the holiday season approaching and many work and social functions now on people's calendars, police will be out and about across Otago Rural targeting the CBD areas and licensed premises to take a proactive stance against unacceptable alcohol-fuelled behaviour within our communities, said Area Commander Otago Rural, Mike Cook.

Police will also have a high focus on drink and drug impaired driving across Otago Rural.

"People driving should expect to be stopped and breath tested not only at checkpoints but also on our remote rural roads. There will be early morning and daytime checkpoints set up at various locations across the area during this holiday season. This is because, historically, there has been a number of drink drivers apprehended on our roads following a big night out, who were attempting to make extraordinarily long journeys while still under the influence of alcohol and suffering from a lack of sleep," he said.

Inspector Cook said people organising social functions need to take appropriate steps to demonstrate host responsibility and ensure that their guests do have a good time in a safe environment for the duration of their festivities.

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