Thursday, 27 October 2005 - 11:01am |
National News

High Court endorses liquor "stings"

1 min read

Police have succeeded with a High Court appeal on the way 'sting' operations are conducted to test compliance with laws against selling alcohol to minors.

The appeal had been lodged after the Liquor Licensing Authority refused to suspend the license of a Taupo bottle store, Scenic Cellars, which had sold liquor to a 17 year old volunteer during a Police controlled purchase operation (CPO) in November last year.

The Authority expressed concern that the underage volunteer said "of course" when questioned by the bottle store's manager whether she was over 18. The manager had commented: "That's good - I don't have to check you for ID".

Delivering judgment in the Rotorua High Court yesterday, Justice Winkelman found that the Authority made errors of law in its handling of the Taupo case.

The Court concluded that the bottle shop manager was simply faced with "a fair replication" of the situation that staff of alcohol outlets routinely face, when young people attempt to purchase liquor unlawfully.

The Police Commissioner's Office has welcomed the High Court decision.

"CPOs are an effective tool to monitor compliance with liquor purchase laws", says Superintendent Dave Trappitt. "Prosecuting licensed premises for selling alcohol to minors sends a strong message not to flout the supply provisions of the Sale of Liquor Act, and it's an important way that Police can help prevent alcohol-related harm to young people".

"This High Court decision reinforces that CPOs are a fair test for licensees, not some kind of artificial entrapment".

The Taupo case has now been referred back to the Liquor Licensing Authority for re-hearing. In doing so, the High Court has specifically encouraged the Authority to take into account the "adequacy of the management systems" the offending store has in place.