People who breach Wellington cityâ€™s public liquor ban can expect a hotter approach from police as the liquor free zone hours change for the winter on Saturday, 1 May.
Inspector Marty Grenfell, Wellington City Area Commander, says introduction of the winter hours will coincide with a police change in tactics from one of education to enforcement of the liquor ban.
The winter hours mean that on Friday and Saturday nights from 5pm to 6am until 31 October, it is an offence to drink and possess alcohol in the defined public place liquor free zone. This changes from the previous summer hours of 8pm to 6am on both nights.
Wellington City Council introduced the ban as a public safety strategy on 21 November last year following an approach from police. Since the banâ€™s introduction police recorded 1819 interventions which were dealt with by warnings. In addition, 61 arrests were made for breaches of the alcohol ban.
"Warnings were the educative approach. We will now be turning up the heat as winter sets in as it is clear peopleâ€™s attitudes to drinking in public places needs to change.
"Those prepared to flout the ban can expect to pay the consequences."
He says police are working with Wellington City Council and ACC to evaluate the banâ€™s effectiveness, part of which will include a survey to assess compliance.
"Our figures show just the number of times we were on the spot to intervene. They donâ€™t tell us the total compliance picture."
Liquor Infringement Notices issued against minors drinking in the city are also on the rise. In the first nine months of this financial year Wellington District has issued 612 notices, 459 of which were in Wellington City Area. This compares with less than 300 across the greater Wellington District for the 2002/2003 financial year.
"Infringement notices attract a $200 fine. Thatâ€™s likely to attract plenty of family discussion when a young person arrives home and fronts up to mum or dad to tell them about the cost of being caught for drinking under age in a public place."
Inspector Grenfell says the liquor ban, use of infringement notices and the KEG (co-ordinated police, district licensing authority and regional public health) initiatives with the hospitality industry are key components of the strategy to reduce alcohol related harm in the city.
"Public safety is our priority. We want to reduce the chances of people becoming crime victims, or from getting a criminal record by assaulting someone or driving while under the influence of alcohol."