Friday, 17 December 2004 - 3:01pm |
National News

Waikato New Year hotspots in the spotlight

3 min read

Police are warning New Year revellers heading for Waikato beach spots this year to expect a high police presence and a clampdown on alcohol-related crime.

Police will be out in force this New Year's Eve in both Raglan and the Coromandel Peninsula in a bid to quell any trouble and enforce liquor bans.

The annual influx of young people into the Coromandel town of Whangamata for New Year's Eve celebrations swells the population to reported levels of up to 60-70,000 people. Each year police make hundreds of arrests, mainly for breaching the liquor ban.

Police are also expecting large numbers of revellers in Raglan this year, where a liquor ban has just been introduced.

Eastern Waikato area controller Inspector Allan Boreham says police numbers will once again be boosted in Whangamata this year in response to the burgeoning number of visitors, mainly from outside the area.

"Every year we encounter numerous problems stemming from young people and alcohol. There is a liquor ban in place across the whole of the Coromandel Peninsula and it is strictly enforced - especially in trouble spots like Whangamata.

"All we ask is that people remember the ban is in place and don't bring alcohol onto the street or in public places."

Mr Boreham said police had plans in place to patrol the usual gathering spots in the town, like the surf club and the beach. More and more people were having parties on their own properties as well.

"We certainly do not want to dampen the festive spirit, but we want to make it crystal clear that we will be doing our utmost to keep the town safe and trouble-free, not just for visitors but for local residents as well," he said.

Last year police made 824 arrests in Whangamata over the New Year period. Most of those were for breaching the liquor ban. There were also numerous other incidents police dealt with, all fuelled by alcohol.

"We need to get the message across to these young people that their lives will be made a whole lot easier if they ease up on the drinking and remember that the liquor ban is in place By all means have a good time, but be sensible and don't go overboard."

Mayhem in Whangamata is nothing new. In 1995, police were issuing similar warnings to young people about trouble at the beach town. Back then, the local police staff of four was boosted to 120. Mr Boreham said numbers would be similar this year.

Across to the West Waikato, police numbers will be boosted in Raglan this New Year's Eve to once again keep the town trouble-free.

The newly-introduced liquor ban will hopefully curb a lot of the problems that the town experienced last New Year's Eve, Western Waikato area commander Inspector Graham Matthews says.

"We were taken by surprise last year with the outbreaks of fighting and disorder in the main street and we don't want a repeat of that," Mr Matthews said.

"We will be boosting police numbers significantly - firstly to enforce the liquor ban, but also to keep a lid on any potential trouble that may break out in the town."

Mr Matthews said Raglan was becoming a popular holiday spot and like Whangamata, was attracting more and more visitors from outside the region. The local residents had a right to have their town protected adequately and it was often people from out of town who caused most of the trouble.

"Last year we arrested several people from out of the area who were responsible for a significant amount of the offending on New Year's Eve. This year, we will have a strong presence which we hope will deter anyone thinking of starting trouble."

Liquor bans prohibit alcohol being consumed on the street or in public places like beaches or parks. It does not include alcohol being transported to a restaurant or to a private home . Anyone who breaches a liquor ban is liable for a fine of up to $400 and a criminal conviction.