More work needs to be done to challenge New Zealand's drinking culture judging by the provisional figures from Friday night's Operation Unite alcohol harm reduction campaign.
Acting Assistant Commissioner Win Van der Velde, Specialist Operations, Police National Headquarters, said the combined New Zealand and Australia police jurisdictions Operation Unite has reinforced the message that police, partner agencies and the public need to work together to reduce alcohol related harm on both sides of the Tasman.
The 12-hour operation which ran from 6pm on Friday to 6am Saturday morning, recorded some mixed results. Police were pleased that less than one percent of the 31,777 drivers stopped and tested for alcohol were over the limit.
"We're disappointed however that around 200 people still chose to drink and drive despite extensive publicity and the dangers around it," Mr Van der Velde said.
On a positive note, police say the partnerships between agencies working alongside officers on the night, and feedback from licensees and the public was very supportive.
Inspector Tracy Patterson, National Alcohol Programmes Managers, said the strength in partnerships will make a big difference in trying to reduce the alcohol related in the community.
"Alcohol check lists or brief intervention packs with alcohol reduction messages were given to people that officers spoke with during the 12-hour campaign," she said. "Even if only one in 10 takes the time to go through the intervention pack, reads the messages and makes a change in their drinking, then that may help save a life."
Early indications are that alcohol related arrests for assaults were down - 127 compared with 206 for the same time period last year.
Provisional figures from Friday night are:
• more than 1000 police officers worked on the operation
• 200 staff from partner agencies such as health, ACC, councils, Maori Wardens took part
• around 800 ALAC brief intervention packs were issued
• a total of 31,777 drivers stopped and breath tested of which 186 tested positive for alcohol (less than one percent)
• 41 drivers elected blood tests which will be sent for analysis
• 472 other offences were detected at checkpoints. These included warrants to arrest, no warrants of fitness , no registration or other miscellaneous offences
• 765 hotels and licensed premises checked
• 107 breaches of the Sale of Liquor Act
• 68 arrests for breaches of liquor bans
• 230 warnings for liquor ban breaches
• 23 liquor infringements notices (LINs) issued to under 18 year olds
• 34 (LINS) warnings given to under 18s
• 286 Controlled Purchase Operations run to check if alcohol would be sold to under age young people, of which 30 failed. These will result in applications for suspension of licence or cancellation in some cases.
• 1 arrest for dangerous driving after a driver backed out of a checkpoint in Wellington
• the highest breath test reported was 1046mg. This was recorded in Wairoa.
Police are however disappointed by the results from Controlled Purchase Operations round in most parts of the country. Thirty out of the 276 operations resulted in sales to minors.
One off licence was found selling outside its licensed hours, and five intoxicated patrons were found in another hotel compliance check.
Counties Manukau Police had 15 teams conducting simultaneous controlled purchase operations and surprisingly one major new supermarket failed. The manager had authorised the sale. This is likely to result in a five day suspension of alcohol sales and a one month suspension of the manager's certificate.
All sales made in a failed controlled purchase operation will have applications for suspension or cancellation made to the Liquor Licensing Authority.
Police used some innovative methods to convey messages about the dangers of excessive drinking. An alcohol harm reduction DVD with intoxication messages was played in the Rotorua Police Custody suite.
Full results have not yet come through. More information is possible tomorrow.
Released by Kaye Calder
Public Affairs: Police National Headquarters
Mobile: 027 241 6305