Wellington Police have issued more than 60 liquor infringement notices in the last three weeks to under 18-year-olds for drinking in public places.
They have also removed 20 young people from situations detrimental to their health, welfare and safety, returning them to their homes under section 48 of the Children, Young Persons and Families Act.
Inspector Marty Grenfell, Wellington Area Controller, says the crackdown is part of Operation Youth -- a police operation targeting unaccompanied youth in the central city.
Wellington Beat officers, the inner city community constable, Strategic Response and Group staff have joined forces with Wellington, Kapiti Mana and Lower Hutt youth aid officers on recent Friday and Saturday nights.
"The Operation is running because weâ€™re concerned at the number of minors congregating late at night in inner city parks, streets and alleyways. Many of them are drinking alcohol which puts them at greater personal risk," Mr Grenfell says.
"One of the kids we found drinking was only 11," he says. "But for every minor weâ€™ve found drinking in a public place there are three of their 18-year-old mates who are doing the same thing and who are immune from the law.
"Weâ€™ve had a mixed reaction from parents when weâ€™ve taken the kids home. Some are relieved, some donâ€™t care, while others confess that they have little control over their children or know what their offspring are getting up to."
He says that while supportive of police action, some parents have expressed disquiet that their children have received a $200 instant fine. "Weâ€™ve had a few telephone calls requesting an alternative penalty."
Mr Grenfell says the operation will continue for another few weeks. "Weâ€™ve seen a noticeable drop in some types of crime and already weâ€™re seeing fewer unaccompanied kids hanging around the city late at night."