Operation Unite puts focus on alcohol safety and harm reduction

Operation Unite puts focus on alcohol safety and harm reduction

National News

Early results from the first night of this weekend’s Operation Unite alcohol harm and reduction campaign are encouraging but police say more work is needed to help shift a ‘drink to get drunk’ culture.

Operation Unite is the fourth time that New Zealand and Australian police agencies have worked together in a weekend of action targeting alcohol harm. This weekend’s focus is on changing the ‘drink to get drunk’ culture prevalent on both sides of the Tasman.

Provisional results from last night’s operation in New Zealand show that 1069 officers were involved in the operation which ran from 6pm to 6am. They were accompanied by 153 people from partner agencies including District Licensing Agency, Public Health, ALAC, Maori Wardens and Community Patrol members.

A similar number are expected to be involved tonight in phase 2 of the weekend campaign which is running simultaneously in Australia.

Provisional New Zealand Police figures from last night show:
• 144 brief intervention and resource packs were handed out challenging people’s drinking behaviour and offering 0800 help line numbers for those people who realise they have a drinking problem
• 249 arrests were made for a variety of offences
• 1927 breath tests were carried out by mobile patrols
• 20,649 breath tests were conducted at checkpoint operations
• 162 drivers recorded positive breath tests
• 28 drivers are awaiting the outcome of blood tests
• 506 visits were made to hotels to check compliance
• 56 breaches of the Sale of Liquor Act were recorded – this included people who were intoxicated in bars
• 51 arrests were made for breaches of liquor bans
• 178 people were given warnings for breaches of liquor bans
• 30 Liquor Infringement Notices were issued
• 21 warnings were given for Liquor Infringement Notices
• 121 controlled purchase operations were run at on licence liquor outlets to test that alcohol was not being sold to minors
• 208 controlled purchase operations were run at off licence liquor outlets testing similar processes and sales practices
• There were 46 controlled purchase operations in which alcohol was sold to minors. These breaches will be referred to the Liquor Licensing Authority.

Acting Detective Superintendent Ross Grantham, New Zealand Police spokesperson for Operation Unite, said the controlled purchase operation breaches were very disappointing given the work and training that enforcement, regulator, retail and hospitality industry carry out.

“There’s no excuse for retailers selling alcohol to minors. Parents have retailers have been told often enough about the legal provisions, it’s clear that the message isn’t getting through to some people.”

On a brighter note, he said that feedback from police generally across the country was positive with some good examples of police working with young people to help get them spread the alcohol safety and responsibility message.

“Auckland officers visited parties and walked through parks and other locations where young people congregated,” Mr Grantham said. “”I’m told this early intervention meant less disorder late on in the evening and morning.

“Four SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving) members from different schools worked alongside police at the checkpoint operations. This was a great initiative and went down well with the public.”

Chocolates with the ‘thanks for driving safe and sober’ message were given out at Auckland checkpoints, and also to passengers in taxis and buses as a reward for taking public transport and reinforcing road safety messaging.

Another example of positive work with young people was last week leading up to Operation Unite, 1850 year 11 students in Hawkes Bay schools attended a youth alcohol expo focusing on making sensible and safe choices.

In Waikato 27 infringement offence notices were given out for minor traffic offences, 1 disqualified driver had his vehicle impounded, and one driver had his licence suspended because of the number of demerit points.

Southern District Police were kept busy with alcohol related driving offences including one intoxicated Dunedin driver stopped for driving on the wrong side of the wrong with (recorded 636mgm), and a woman stopped at Roxburgh with an alcohol breath test level of 929mgm.

“Our message tonight is simple. Let’s make it a night to remember for all the right safe reasons. If you are going to drink, then be sensible, responsible and safe about it. Look after your mates, be a good host, and make sure you don’t drive if you’ve been drinking.”

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Media contact: Kaye Calder: Public Affairs, PNHQ, mobile: 027 241 6305