After-ball functions ready to grow up

After-ball functions ready to grow up

Rob Pope, Acting Police Commissioner

The school ball season is in full swing but after-ball functions are up in the air.
 
Earlier this month, Auckland police wrote to all secondary schools in the district, reminding principals and parents of the laws around serving alcohol to under-18s.
 
A similar letter had been sent in previous years but this time it hit a nerve. Alcohol issues have been a hot topic during the Law Commission's Sale of Liquor Act review but more poignantly, the letter coincided with the alcohol-related death of a 16-year old Auckland school student.
 
The warning letter was followed up with action. Police intervened with organisers of an Auckland college's after-ball function and alcohol was removed from the venue.
 
Nationally, police are focusing on the risk of alcohol-related harm to under-18s. Our staff are available to support and advise schools, parents, students and event organisers, but they will also enforce the Sale of Liquor Act where offences are detected.
 
The young people attending these after-ball functions are the captains and leaders of tomorrow, and all of us - police, schools, parents and society at large - have a duty to make sure they get there in one piece.
 
When adults look for ways to get around the law, or seek to make money out of selling alcohol to young people, or rate 'a good time' more highly than our young people's well-being, they endorse this country's ingrained, binge-drinking culture.
 
The response from principals, parents and the general public has been very positive. It has sparked thought and discussion about how young people - in fact, how all of us - can have a great night out that doesn't revolve around getting drunk.
 
When we figure that out, we'll be a lot closer to becoming a nation of responsible drinkers.
 
For advice on holding a function, contact your local police station and speak to an Alcohol Harm Reduction officer.